EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, Congressman Bill Johnson visited the site of the derailed train in East Palestine for the first time. He saw what had happened, and we also talked to the mayor about the turnaround in progress.
After touring the scene, Johnson’s first response was, “Wow.”
“What a massive operation that they’ve got going on there,” he said.
Johnson toured the site with East Palestine’s mayor and fire chief. They were flanked by burned-out box cars and a Norfolk Southern train rolling through in the background.
Johnson said he’d been in constant contact with East Palestine officials but didn’t show up until Monday because he wasn’t needed.
“The last thing you need in a situation like that is elected officials and politicians coming in, poking their nose around,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he’s not afraid to take congressional action to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again, but it’s too soon to make that decision.
He also said no one has asked him for FEMA help.
“We are engaged with the governor’s office so I will see what the governor says to whether he thought he needed FEMA help. No one asked me to reach out to FEMA,” Johnson said.
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway says the weekend went well.
“The town’s starting slowly to come back to normal. I don’t know if it’ll ever be exactly the way it was but we’re trying our best. Businesses are opening. I’ve seen people out on walks,” Conaway said.
The mayor says the air and water quality in the village continue to be OK. He also addressed the group of people who’ve been visiting others with wells that may be at risk.
Reporter Stan Boney: “Do you know if you have any wells contaminated?”
Conaway: “As of right now, I know of none that are contaminated, but we are still waiting for results. It takes a while to get back in.”
When asked how long the cleanup will take, Conaway would not even give a timeline. At this point, they have no idea when it’s going to be finished.