EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – While Ohio Governor Mike DeWine used the East Palestine library as the backdrop for his testimony Wednesday in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he also visited the derailment site again.
First News Anchor Dave Sess was at the derailment site, too, and spoke to the governor and the Ohio EPA director in an exclusive interview about the goal of removing every inch of toxic soil and every drop of contaminated water.
DeWine got an up-close look and personal tour of the two new humongous water tanks in East Palestine. They went up fast. Just two weeks ago, the area was a muddy mess.
“A million gallons in each one of them, but it’s going to enable them to deal with some of this water,” DeWine said.
Contaminated water that is being collected as the toxic soil is dug up under the rail tracks.
EPA Director Anne Vogel said the new tanks replaced smaller ones that were seen around town.
“This is 50 of those,” she said.
The tanks are a gigantic addition to the East Palestine skyline, holding one million gallons each. That’s 12.8 million Gatorade bottles.
“But you know, the water will be taken off-site and will be injected, so not gonna stay here,” DeWine said.
The project is still in the removal phase. Ahead is implementing a longer phase remediation, which includes installing monitoring wells around the tracks.
“Those monitoring wells will be able to tell us if there’s any contamination to groundwater so that is really an important step,” Vogel said.
One step at a time and this is two giant steps. A long road remains, but progress is being made.
“They’re looking at maybe April 15, middle of April to be done with that first rail. Then, they start in on the second one,” DeWine said.
When asked if he is pleased with the progress, DeWine reiterated that it’s a huge project and that it’s further along than it was.