EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — On Thursday, First News learned more about the effort to remove toxic chemicals from air, water and soil in and around East Palestine.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s office put out a press release updating the public about the efforts to clean up East Palestine. Politicians from both sides of the aisle made their way to the Village today. They said they want Norfolk Southern to be held responsible and foot the bill for clean-up.
One million gallons of contaminated liquid and 3150 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed from the crash site according to Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, but it’s still unclear how much more will need to be removed.
Sen. JD Vance addressed claims that new rail and track were installed on top of contaminated soil.
“I think [that] suggests they’re much more focused on reopening the railway than on cleaning up this community … That’s a big big problem,” Vance said.
The EPA says it hasn’t detected phosgene or mineral acids — which are directly related to the controlled burn process — since the chemicals have dissipated. Gov. DeWine’s office reports the EPA is no longer testing for these two contaminants.
“Everybody should ask for that test before they go back into their home if they have evacuated. And we also expect and so far they have done it, Norfolk Southern to pay for every one of those tests,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said.
U.S. EPA administrator Michael Regan was in the village today, checking out the situation.
“EPA has assisted with the screening of more than 480 homes under the voluntary screening program,” Regan said.
Regan visited the home to see an air quality test given to Kristina Ferguson. She remains evacuated while waiting for the results of an air quality test.
“Somebody needs to help us … We are getting sick,” Ferguson said.
The EPA administrator also saw the work being done in Sulphur Run to keep the water as clean as possible.
“The air and the water are safe for those residents we have deemed being safe and to come back in. If the water or the air has not been tested, I am asking the residents to please seek out that testing from both the EPA and state of Ohio,” Regan said.
That report from Gov. DeWine’s office says people may continue to notice a smell around the crash site but states some of those chemicals have what is known as a ‘low odor threshold’ and can be smelled at levels much lower than what is dangerous.
The contaminated water around the tracks continues to be a concern with rain in the forecast.
Experts worry those chemicals could wash into nearby waterways. Dams have been installed along Sulphur Run to prevent further spread.
“It’s up to the EPA to convince these people that they’re giving them the accurate information when they said their air is clean and their water is clean,” Bill Johnson said.
First News is told crews will be working around the clock to remove these contaminants from the area.