Ohio train derailment: Officials insist East Palestine is safe but residents aren’t buying it
Officials in Ohio are claiming that the town of East Palestine is safe for residents to return to after the controlled burn of chemicals following a train derailment, but some people aren’t buying it and believe there’s still serious health hazards.
A Norfolk Southern train with 50 rail cars, 10 of which were carrying vinyl chloride, derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3. The derailment caused hazardous chemicals to spill onto the ground and sent a plume of smoke into the air.
A controlled release of chemicals was done to avoid the risk of an explosion. Residents were evacuated before officials conducted the controlled release, but have since been allowed back.
When asked by Fox News on Tuesday if residents should feel safe moving back into their home, officials said that they should.
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“First of all, I think, look, I think that I would be drinking the bottled water and I would be continuing to find out what the tests were showing as far as the air. I would be alert and concerned, but I think I would probably be back in my house,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, also said that residents should feel safe, citing recent air and water testing.
“Look, we have got very good data as it relates to the air quality, and I think people can feel very confident in that fact, coupled with the fact that there continues to be air monitoring. So that’s very good. We have no indication that the municipal water supply is not safe. However, we do have testing that is pending, and I think it’s a relative easy thing to do to use bottled water for a short of time. I think people should be confident that multiple agencies, both at the state and the national level, are very serious about this, are watching very closely and are allowing any wiggle room when it comes to safety,” Vanderhoff said.
Testing conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency “show no detection of contaminants in raw water from the five wells that feed into East Palestine’s municipal water system,” a Wednesday press release states. “With these tests results, Ohio EPA is confident that the municipal water is safe to drink.”
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East Palestine residents Nathan Izotic and his wife Kelly said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that they are seeing the effects of the chemicals first-hand.
“We are seeing them locally and inside of our bodies. What we’re experiencing- local fish in our creeks have died….oily sheens and coloration in our water….[the] constant smell of burning plastics and chemicals in the air…issues with our dog…vomiting, acting lethargic. It’s scary stuff here,” Izotic said.
Nathan Velez, another resident of East Palestine, said that he’s experienced persistent headaches.
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“My house is just across the tracks … and it smells, too. You can’t spend a lot of time here without feeling like crap,” he said. “And my question is why, if it’s okay if it’s safe, and all these people say it’s safe, if it’s so safe and okay then why does it hurt?”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it hasn’t detected health concerns from the air in the area.
“Since the initial derailment, EPA has led robust air-quality testing (including with the state-of-the-art ASPECT plane) in and around East Palestine,” EPA Great Lakes said in a tweet. “At this time, our air monitoring has not detected any levels of health concern that can be attributed to the incident.”
In a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern said that its representatives would not attend Wednesday’s town hall.
“Today, we hoped to join local, state, and federal officials at a town hall to update the East Palestine community on the steps we are taking to thoroughly, responsibly, and safely clean up the accident site and to provide the latest results from ongoing water and air testing,” the spokesperson said. “At the same time, we know that many are rightfully angry and frustrated right now. Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties. With that in mind, Norfolk Southern will not be in attendance this evening.”
Fox News’ Courtney DeGeorge and Ashley Carnahan contributed to this report.
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