EAST PAESTINE Ohio — The head of The Environmental Protection Agency visited this community Thursday to make promises of However, residents were skeptical about the delay in responding to the toxic effects of the derailment.
Within hours, the visit was completed of an emotional and heated town meeting, where residents pleaded with town officials to address their safety concerns after Norfolk Southern, the railroad company, declined to send representatives.
Some residents claimed they were not convinced that the E.P.A. would visit their home. Michael Regan would be enough, said some residents. The derailment occurred almost two weeks ago. There have been fears ever since. of A controlled release was initiated by an explosion of Chemicals aboard and multiday evacuation. There were increasing complaints of headaches, odors, and fish dead in the local creeks.
“It’s about time they showed up,” John Cozza is the owner of a pizza restaurant in East Palestine, said. “But I don’t know what they’re going to do about it.”
According to Mr. Cozza, he was forced to close his store last weekend partly because of There are more concerns than ever about being able to return safely to the town. Neighbors and families have been telling younger people to leave town permanently, he said, and to seek a safer place to build a life.
“I’m worried about these kids,” Mr. Cozza, 69, said, adding, “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Mr. Regan’s visit came on the same day that the White House, responding to a request from Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio Announced that emergency help teams will be sent by the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be heading to East Palestine. The community of about 5,000 residents is at the center of The wake of anxiety of The derailment of this month of Norfolk Southern’s freight train transporting dangerous chemicals across the country. Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
On Thursday, Mr. Regan was asked if he felt comfortable in the area and would allow his children to drink it. He repeatedly tried to assure that the tests done by the state were trustworthy. Flanked Ohio Representatives from the agency and lawmakers were assured that tests had been performed accurately and didn’t show signs of serious risk. of contaminations.
“We’re testing for everything that was on that train, so we feel comfortable that we are casting a net wide enough to present a picture that will protect the community,” He spoke at a press conference following a visit to Sulphur Run (a creek that was affected by the release), of chemicals. An official wearing a Hazmat suit was seen carrying equipment while nearby loud pumps pumped water.
“As a father, I trust the science. I trust the methodology the state is using,” Mr. Regan made the remarks at the news conference.
Regan also stated that there was no plan to make the Superfund site, which is the federal designation for highly contaminated areas subject to federal cleanup plans. He indicated that Norfolk Southern would have to cover the cost of addressing other contamination issues. As such, he suggested that well-watered families use bottled water until they are tested safe.
Regan stated that air quality monitoring is an important part of screened houses. “has not detected any levels of health concerns in the community that are attributable to the train derailment,” Any dangerous levels are also included of Vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride. Five of Vinyl chloride was used in the manufacture of plastic and was carried on railcars. One example is hydrogen chloride. of Vinyl chloride can release toxic chemicals.
Regan stated that the agency continues to monitor the air and have begun to test groundwater. He joined other officials to discuss concerns regarding the potential long-term consequences. of Possible exposure to chemical substances and derailment
All of There are always threats to those who remain despite the assurances of federal, state, and local officials.
“No community should have to go through something like this, but you need to know that you’re not alone,” Republican Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio. Senator Sherrod brown, Democrat of OhioHe vowed that he would work together with Johnson and other legislators to examine any legislation that might address the incident, which included the fact that the train had been classified so that local officials were not required to be notified of its dangerous cargo.
Brown also asked Mr. DeWine for a declaration of a natural disaster. East Palestine and the region affected by the conflict, is a step necessary to access federal assistance and add on the request for medical aid.
Mr. DeWine’s office, however, said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that the area did not qualify for such a declaration, in part because the railroad company was paying for some residential expenses and because of The lack of After the accident, personal property was damaged. (FEMA spokesperson noted That the agency kept in touch with the state and federal agencies within the region.
Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of OhioTalking in East After a separate trip to Palestine on Thursday, he said: “we need to get the resources necessary for this community to rebuild.”
Mr. Vance added that he was unsatisfied with not just the railroad company’s response but with that of The federal health agency and its lack of Clarity about the testing process and its level of contamination that makes water hazardous.
“It’s up to us to give people the confidence to come back to their homes,” He said. “And if people don’t feel that, that’s on us, not on them.”
Maria Michalos (E.P.A. A spokeswoman for E.P.A. Maria Michalos stated that the agency had been present on the ground. East Palestine, since 02:01 a.m. the morning of the crash to aid state and local authorities in their emergency response efforts. The end of The E.P.A. was established that day. There were 17 air quality monitors and testers, as well as contractors. The mobile analytical lab was used to analyse samples. A special aircraft was also deployed to determine the release of emissions.
Residents They largely blame Norfolk Southern, and were furious Wednesday night when company representatives backed out of The meeting was attended by local officials. Some have wondered why the rush was to fix the tracks so that trains can continue moving through town.
Six members of Congress who represent the region — including Mr. Brown, Mr. Vance and Mr. Johnson — wrote to the railroad company. They demanded details about the company’s plans for financially supporting the region’s farmers and residents and for cleaning up any contaminated soils and water sources, along with details about the railroad’s operations.
The company has repeatedly pledged to not only provide financial aid but to also continue work cleaning up the area. Alan H. Shaw was the president and chief executive. an open letter Promising that “we are here and will stay here for as long as it takes to ensure your safety and to help East Palestine recover and thrive.”
But Some residents and officials also demand more of The federal government. Pete Buttigieg (transport secretary) and the E.P.A. Particularly, they were not able to move faster to address their concerns or the extent of them of It’s the result.
Noting that the derailment site was 20 miles from his state’s border, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia’s Democrat called it “unacceptable that it took nearly two weeks for a senior administration official to show up.” He demanded a “complete picture of the damage and a comprehensive plan to ensure the community is supported in the weeks, months and years to come.”
Asked about Mr. Regan’s visit, Mark Milnes, 61, declared it “too little, too late.”
“I’m worried about washing my dishes with the tap water, and the laundry and taking a bath,” He later added. “I’m concerned about the children.”
Michael D. Shear Reporting was contributed by Ida Lieszkovszky.