A disaster like none “never seen”. She is Erin Brockovich, whose story was told in 2000 at the cinema by Steven Spielberg in the eponymous film Erin Brockovich, alone against all. Embodied by Julia Roberts on screen, this whistleblower led a fight, sometimes to the detriment of her private life, against the American company Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), condemned in 1993 for having polluted, with its discharges toxic hexavalent chromium, drinking waters in Hinkley, California. This underground pollution had sickened the inhabitants, causing serious illnesses and even death.
Elevated to the rank of environmental heroine, a cause to which she has devoted her life since, the environmental activist discovered, with dismay, the incident that occurred in East Palestine, Ohio. On February 3, a train carrying flammable chemicals derailed in this small American town, the fault of a defective axle. In flames, the convoy of goods transported, among other things, vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic substance used in the manufacture of plastic. To avert the danger of an explosion, the railway authorities proceeded with discharges “controlled” of the compound. Absorbed by the ground, it also released toxic fumes into the air, causing fear and anxiety among residents.