Ohio residents voiced their frustration at a Wednesday town hall over the toxic chemical burn following a train derailment earlier this month.
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway fielded questions from residents during the meeting, noting Tuesday’s comments from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre were the only acknowledgment he had seen from the Biden administration.
“Where’s Pete Buttigieg? Where’s he at?” asked one resident referring to the Biden administration’s Transportation Secretary.
“I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine,” Conaway replied.
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio expressed outrage over the federal response to a train derailment that caused a chemical scare in the village during a town hall. "Where's Pete Buttigieg?' one community member asked. "Your guess is as good as me," Mayor Trent Conaway responded. pic.twitter.com/h8Hkn4S0Wt
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 16, 2023
“EPA is working hand in glove with the state of Ohio. And I — we think that’s really important. The administration has been in close touch with local officials to ensure that they have what they need and that their needs are being met,” Jean-Pierre said during a Tuesday press briefing.
They’ve been on the ground, on site, since February 4th. They are, clearly, closely monitoring the situation in East Palestine. … And since February 4th, EPA has been leading air quality testing and supporting Ohio EPA with surface and groundwater testing. The National Transportation Security Board has also been on site for over a week to lead the investigation into the cause of the derailment. And the EPA will continue to conduct 24/7 air quality monitoring throughout the East Palestine community in the days to come.
“I know there has been questions about the water. EPA will continue to support Ohio EPA surface and groundwater sampling efforts to ensure drinking water is indeed safe,” Jean-Pierre concluded.
“Like every Ohioan, I’m horrified by the Norfolk Southern train crash in East Palestine and the images we’ve seen coming from Northeast Ohio,” Senator J.D. Vance wrote in a Monday statement.
My statement on the train crash in East Palestine. pic.twitter.com/E3IiyKOC2Z
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 13, 2023
“So far, we have been told that the air and drinking water tests performed by the state and federal Environmental Protection Agencies [EPA], the Ohio National Guard, and Norfolk Southern have been encouraging,” Vance continued. “We continue to monitor environmental reports from multiple agencies about the quality of the air and water in the region.”
The newly-elected Ohio Senator said he has heard “alarming anecdotes” about contaminated waterways and their effects on wildlife. He encouraged anyone with “credible reports of environmental harms” to contact his office.
“After the cleanup and safety of everyone is ensured, we will turn our attention to how to prevent this in the future,” he continued addressing a “troubling trend of catastrophic infrastructure problems” around the country suggesting “more than a few reports of sabotage.”
“I am dedicated to ensuring that the relevant authorities do not use tests conducted as a permission slip to pack up and go home,” he concluded.. “This is a complex environmental disaster with impacts that may be difficult to assess in the short term. The long-term study will be imperative. As will long-term commitment to remediation by Norfolk Southern for the property damaged, the wildlife disrupted, and the community scarred by this accident.”
“As always, my office stands ready to aid constituents facing pressing needs in the wake of disaster.”