Update: Vance Questions Actions; EPA Administrator, Brown Tour Area

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – U.S Environmental Protection Administrator Michael Regan and both of Ohio’s U.S. senators visited the village Thursday.

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, made an appearance in front of the Methodist Church in East Palestine today and voiced his concerns that Norfolk Southern Railroad is not doing enough for residents in the aftermath of a Feb. 3 train derailment. 

Vance said he has been talking to residents in the village. He said he believes the railway is helping financially so far, but he questioned whether the actions taken to get the railway operating, including covering up soil where the controlled release and burn of chemicals took place, was the correct action.

Additionally, Vance suggested it will take time for chemicals to leach from the soils into the drinking water wells, which will require additional testing not just in the near term, but long-term.

Vance stressed the importance of giving East Palestine residents the confidence they need to feel safe in their community again. He said residents he has spoken to feel dedicated to the town and just want the support they need to feel safe remaining here.

He wants to know why the CDC is dragging its feet, failing to provide exactly what the safe levels of the chemicals are in the drinking water and air. He said without that information, he did not believe people can know whether or not to drink the water. 

Vance also answered questions about DeWine‘s comments regarding the fact that there were not enough railcars on the train carrying chemicals to consider it a hazardous train. Vance said such a designation would make it necessary for the railroad to notify local authorities every time a hazardous train comes through town. Several trains come through East Palestine in any given hour. 

The Norfolk Southern line runs through Salem, Leetonia, Columbiana and New Waterford before entering East Palestine eastbound. 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks to reporters during a visit to East Palestine on Thursday.

Brown, Regan Tour Area

Stopping by an area of Sulfur Run creek downtown, right where the EPA continues to aerate and the chemical smell is strong, U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he is not above embarrassing Norfolk Southern if that’s what it takes to make things right for the residents of East Palestine. 

Brown and Regan were taking a tour of the derailment site Thursday afternoon. When they got to a location near the creek, they were both surrounded by media members. Brown reminded those able to hear him over loud equipment that Norfolk Southern employees had nearly been a part of a railroad strike, with safety as one of the main concerns. While it is still not known what caused the derailment, the condition of an axle or wheel on one of the train cars has been widely pointed to. 

Another press conference is slated for later today. 

Pictured at top: U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance speaks during a visit to East Palestine on Thursday.

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