The Ohio disaster prompts bipartisan calls from Vance, Fetterman for the EPA and NTSB to act to keep residents safe
An unlikely duo, Senators John Fetterman, D-Penn., and JD Vance, D-Ohio, have teamed up with Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Penn., to launch the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to take action following the February 3 toxic train accident in East Palestine, Ohio.
The group of senators sent letters to the NTSB and EPA urging authorities to use their powers under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 to ensure that the Norfolk Southern Railway was responsible for cleaning up those released hazardous materials will be held responsible for the wreck and to compensate affected residents and businesses.
“Hundreds of families have been forced to flee their homes and are now rightfully concerned about the long-term health risks associated with exposure to the toxic chemicals released. No American family should be forced to face the horror of fleeing their homes because of hazardous material spills or community fires,” the lawmaker wrote.
“The Norfolk-Southern train had 53 derailed cars, at least 10 of which were carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate,” the senators wrote to EPA Administrator Michael S Regan.
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“According to the EPA, acute exposure to high levels of airborne vinyl chloride can affect the central nervous system and cause dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches. Chronic exposure to this chemical can cause liver damage, central nervous system effects, and even a rare form of liver cancer,” they noted.
Legislators wrote that the community is “also concerned about possible exposure to additional hazardous gases that may have been released when first responders were forced to vent and burn the vinyl chloride-containing train cars to prevent a catastrophic explosion.”
“Norfolk Southern has a responsibility to these first responders and the workers who are putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe by fighting fires, going door-to-door to evacuate residents and working to… derailed train, hazardous material and contaminated materials to salvage water and soil removed from the immediate area.”
The senators said they “appreciate the extensive air and water surveillance operations that have begun, but affected communities need continued surveillance and assurance of the security of their homes, water and soil.”
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Our offices are aware of reports of persistent odors and animal deaths,” they said. “Additionally, there are reports that chemicals from the derailment have been found in the Sulfur Run stream and other waterways downstream.”
“Given the rural nature of this community, many residents rely on private drinking water wells that are not connected to a public water supply system, and as such may require additional testing by the EPA to ensure the safety of their drinking water sources. We are deeply concerned for the safety of the community in the affected area,” they said.
Senators asked EPA to commit to using the agencies at its disposal to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and to obtain details of agency resources, monitoring plans, and data and impact reports.
In their letter to the NTSB, the senators said the committee’s independent investigation to determine probable causes of the East Palestine derailment was “critical to preventing future derailments involving hazardous materials” and that they “utilize the NTSB’s findings and all relevant safety recommendations.” to Drive Action Congress and the US Department of Transportation can take action to prevent spills involving hazardous materials.
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Vance, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday demanding answers about the derailment and asking if two crew members and a trainee would have been enough to move the 150-car train to handle. and they noted that “derailments have reportedly increased in recent years, as has the rate of overall accidents or safety-related incidents per mile.”
Vance is scheduled to visit eastern Palestine Thursday morning to meet with residents and local leaders.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan is scheduled to hold a press event at the Ohio site Thursday after assessing the damage.
“EPA Region 5’s top priority is – and always will be – the health and safety of communities throughout the region,” Regional Administrator Debra Shore said in a statement Tuesday. She said that as of Feb. 14, the EPA helped screen “396 homes” and found “no evidence” of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride.
The EPA and NTSB did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on the letters.
Fox News Digital’s Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ohio-disaster-prompts-bipartisan-calls-from-vance-fetterman-epa-ntsb-act-ensure-resident-safety The Ohio disaster prompts bipartisan calls from Vance, Fetterman for the EPA and NTSB to act to keep residents safe