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EPA chief, senators visit site of chemical spill following Ohio train derailment

APTOPIX Train Derailment Ohio
Posted at 8:25 AM, Feb 16, 2023

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency visited East Palestine on Thursday to assess the damage caused by a train derailment and subsequent chemical spill.

Michael Regan assured residents that the EPA will remain in the area as long as it takes to ensure the "health and safety of this community."

Senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance also visited East Palestine on Thursday.

In a video posted on social media, Vance showed a creek that he claimed was polluted with chemicals.

"The fact that we have not cleaned up the train crash, the fact that these chemicals are still seeping into the ground is an insult to the people who live in East Palestine.

Equally concerned, Brown said he is committed to getting the community the help and answers they need.

Residents of East Palestine gathered in a high school auditorium on Wednesday night to speak directly to community leaders and lawmakers about the train derailment.

The train's operator, Norfolk Southern, did not attend because of "the growing physical threat to our employees."

However, the CEO of the company, Alan Shaw, issued a statement on Thursday, saying he hears the community's fears, anger and frustration.

"I know you also have questions about whether Norfolk Southern will be here to help make things right," he said. "My simple answer is 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."

Shaw added that crews are cleaning the site "thoroughly, responsibly, and safely."

"Together with local health officials, we have implemented a comprehensive testing program to ensure the safety of East Palestine's water, air, and soil," Shaw stated.

Residents have complained of headaches and not knowing the exact cause because of a lack of testing for chemical toxicity.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its website Wednesday and said on Feb. 14 the agency completed screenings for 459 homes and more were scheduled.

The EPA said the total drinking water wells that were sampled as of Feb. 15 was 21. Air monitoring by the EPA is ongoing according to the agency.

The EPA and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine have said that there is no evidence of contaminants associated with the derailment to the water supply, but the EPA said on Feb. 15 that Norfolk Southern is delivering bottled water to East Palestine and will help distribute it.

On Feb. 10 the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency released information on water quality sampling for surface water and said it showed "very low levels of two contaminants, butyl acylate and ethyl hexyl acrylate" in an area called Leslie Run, and said it would dissipate quickly.

The state agency said it detected no butyl acrylate in an area called North Fork Little Beaver Creek or in another location called Little Beaver Creek. The agency said it detected lower levels of hexyl acrylate in North Fork Little Beaver Creek, about a 20-minute drive southwest of the City of East Palestine.

The agency said it did not detect vinyl chloride in any of the waterways it tested.

William Hugar lives near the train tracks. He was evacuated from Sunday until Wednesday.

“Im gonna stay. I grew up in this house. I grew up in this town," he said.