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Ohio Senator J.D. Vance Challenges EPA Administrator Regan to Drink Tap Water in East Palestine

Ohio Senator J.D. Vance has challenged Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to drink the tap water in East Palestine to prove that he believes it is safe.

Vance issued the challenge while speaking to reporters in East Palestine on Thursday.

There have been massive concerns about the water and air quality in the town where a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed on February 3. The EPA has claimed that the water is safe for human consumption, but residents and politicians have been questioning the validity of their claims.

“If the EPA administrator wants to stand here and tell people that the tap water is safe,” Vance said, “they should be willing to drink it.”

“My guidance to people is to continue to drink the bottled water. We don’t know,” Vance continued. “Look, people say that the air is clean. I would like to believe that that’s true. I also have been here for all of three hours, and it doesn’t smell great to me. Especially, when we first arrived. This morning I was immediately struck by the smell of the air. Thankfully, the air problem is a much shorter-term problem than the water problem.”

Independent journalist Nick Sortor tweeted that he had offered EPA officials a glass of tap water, and they declined.

Vance said that he is “extremely frustrated” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not providing him with information on “acceptable levels of contamination.”

“That is on the CDC. That is the government agency that really needs to focus on that,” Vance said. “I talked to some folks in the state administration today who said they think the CDC is on top of this issue, but we need to stay on top of them because my office still hasn’t gotten a good answer on what thresholds are safe.”

Vance also pointed a finger at rail operator Norfolk Southern for not doing enough to clean up the contamination. He described a visit to Leslie Run creek earlier in the day, which is nearby the location of the derailment.

“I took a stick, and I stuck it in the bed of the creek and pulled it along and chemical bubbled out of the ground – It’s pretty visually stunning,” Vance said. “If you’re a resident in this community, how do you have confidence in the drinking water, and the safety of the waterways when chemicals are bubbling up in your own creek. It doesn’t make any sense.”

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