EAST PALESTINE UPDATES: A news conference was held today with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the EPA Administrator, and multiple elected officials from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Here are just a few of the takeaways:
A free health clinic was opened today in East Palestine. Governor DeWine says the railroad company should pay for long-term health issues and those who do not have insurance. DeWine says that nobody would be turned away when asked about residents from Pennsylvania who have been trying to make an appointment.
Based on what we have heard today, there are ongoing lab results on private well testing of water quality that are behind and not released yet. Governor DeWine says the laboratory is being careful and he wants the results as well. There was an additional conversation about water being tested for Dioxin, which may happen soon. Governor DeWine says that ongoing testing of the water will continue once per week going forward, presumably until further notice. DeWine is asking Congress to look at rail safety with new laws need to be implemented to allow rail companies to notify state and local residents of what is being transported.
The EPA Administrator has stated that a full analysis of the soil and water is being done after being asked if other by-products or chemicals are being checked for. Based on new numbers, 4,588 cubic yards of soil and over 1 Million Gallons of contaminated water have been removed. There have been over 500 homes tested for indoor air quality and we did not hear anything specifically state that there were any alarming results.
The EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up all contamination in soil and water, and it is to be cleaned to EPA specifications. This includes that cleaning services for the community are reimbursed. There will be a work plan released with total transparency and if Norfolk Southern does not clean up the mess, the EPA will clean it up and triple the cost that Norfolk Southern will have to pay. The EPA administrator says that there is no way that Norfolk Southern can be left off the hook. Michael Regan is the Administrator, and he says that he understands the community has spoken and hopes they continue to speak up, and he hears the residents.
Governor DeWine says that the soil under the new tracks laid is contaminated and will have to have those tracks lifted with additional soil removed. When asked about who is being held accountable, multiple officials and both Governors have said that Norfolk Southern will be held accountable. An order was signed yesterday to get the soil removed.
The full report from the NTSB has yet to be released and updated safety guidelines would be reviewed after the report is out. In addition, there is conflicting data between the EPA and Norfolk Southern and some of the testing results.
Both Governors have stated that financial accountability will be held and that Norfolk Southern will pay for everything, and Attorney General for Ohio, Dave Yost, is reviewing what actions can be taken.
Former President Donald Trump will be in East Palestine, OH tomorrow. Schools will be closed due based on reports due to potential issues with transportation to get kids to school on time. Erin Brockovich will be in East Palestine, OH on Friday. In addition, at least six class action lawsuits have been opened against Norfolk Southern for charges such as negligence.
We will continue to follow this story and bring you more updates! Want to see the entire conference? Here is a link from one news station: https://fb.watch/iQOotNqjDO/