The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went to the scene of the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday and told the community he was from the government and was there to help in the wake of the disaster.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan saw a creek that still reeks of carcinogenic chemicals following the toxic train derailment in the town earlier this month. He sought to reassure skeptical locals the water is fit for drinking and the air safe to breathe in surrounds where just under 5,000 people make their homes near the Pennsylvania state line.
“I’m asking they trust the government. I know that’s hard. We know there’s a lack of trust,” Regan said, according to AP “We’re testing for everything that was on that train.”
Regan’s visit came in the wake of Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) who discovered what appeared to be residual contamination in the water of a creek in the same area, as Breitbart News reported.
“So I’m here at Leslie Run, and there’s dead worms and dead fish all throughout this water,” Vance said in a video posted to his Twitter account on Thursday. “Something I just discovered is that if you scrape the creek bed, it’s like chemical is coming out of the ground.”
Visited a local creek in East Palestine today. These waterways are still very polluted. It’s time for Norfolk Southern to finish the cleanup. Check this video out: pic.twitter.com/4lsHBmrMJj
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 16, 2023
For his part Regan used his visit Thursday to announce anyone who is fearful of being in their home should seek testing from the government.
“People have been unnerved. They’ve been asked to leave their homes,” he said, adding that if he lived there, he would be willing to move his family back into the area as long as the testing shows it’s safe.
Those attending the previous night’s informational session had questions about health hazards and demanded more transparency from Norfolk Southern, which did not attend, citing concerns about its staff safety.
They are still waiting for their worries to be publicly addressed.
According to AP at least five lawsuits have been filed against the railroad, which announced this week it is creating a dedicated $1 million fund to help the community.
The company said it is continuing to remove spilled contaminants from the ground and streams and monitoring air quality.
“We are here and will stay here for as long as it takes to ensure your safety and to help East Palestine recover and thrive,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a letter to the community.
Despite the words of comfort and reassurance from visiting government officials, there remains plenty of doubt in East Palestine.
As Breitbart News reported, one resident is asking Americans to “pray for us” following the February 3 train derailment that resulted in residents being ordered to evacuate their homes on both sides of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
Watch below as an East Palestine resident asks for prayers and help:
Alana Mastrangelo / Breitbart News
The White House said more response teams will go to East Palestine as it continued to say all will be well and further answers to questions will be forthcoming.
“We understand the residents are concerned — as they should be —- and they have questions. That’s all understandable,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “And we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”