Despite the train derailment happening on February 3rd in East Palestine, OH, it took until late on February 13th before the US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke out about the incident. There was no condemnation of the accident or vow to do anything. Only concern.
“I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the Feb 3 train derailment near East Palestine, OH, and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended through no fault of their own. It’s important that families have access to useful & accurate information.”
Presenting these messages via social media updates, he gave a glimpse into the plans for the situation. “USDOT has been supporting the investigation led by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Our Federal Rail Administration and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials teams were onsite within hours of the initial incident and continue to be actively engaged… In the meantime, our Federal partners at EPA are onsite and monitoring indoor and outdoor air quality to test for VOCs and other chemicals of concern. EPA has screened 291 homes and no detections were identified – and 181 homes remain.”
Yet, data shows that this is much worse than Buttigieg or other federal officials are making known on a major scale. Norfolk Southern provided a list of what was being transported, and the list is far more severe than previously reported – including chemicals like ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethlyhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene. Each of these substances can have immediate and detrimental effects on the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. If you encounter them on your skin, the burns can be disfiguring.
While that’s horrific, so is Buttigieg’s absence from the accident as well as the state of Ohio. Appearing on Fox News, Republican Governor Mike DeWine said “I’ve not seen him at all. did get a call from the president. You know, the president said I’ll send you whatever you need.” This kind of message is exactly what the Governor needs to hear, and the Democrats need to deliver. This part of the rust belt has been destroyed by the death of industry here in the US, and people like Biden have left them behind.
Thankfully for Ohioans, DeWine is in their corner. “We’re concerned, we’re not going to leave. We’re going to continue to do everything that we can, every single day, 24/7. Because look, this could be my family in there, could be a loved one in there. These are people we care about. They’re our citizens. We’re going to do everything we can to protect them.”
Yet, in a somewhat similar contrast, some of the people in East Palestine feel the same about the Governor.
Resident Bree Hall spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation about the situation. “The railroad won’t give answers. It’s kind of brushed off by Governor DeWine, the severity of it, and I’m not sure if it’s because we’re a poor community that it doesn’t really matter, if maybe we were a more affluent community maybe more people would take notice, but we matter. East Palestine matters and I just wish more people would take it serious.”
For what it’s worth, DeWine also spoke about the involvement of the EPA, and he’s taking their recommendations for the residents seriously. “The water in the system, the community system, the village’s system, that water is safe. If you have an individual well, what we have said is we will come out, Ohio EPA will come out and test your individual well. So until your well is tested, if that’s what your water source is, you should not drink it. I would wait until I’ve got the all clear from an actual test that will be done if you have an individual well.”
Even with system water, many are still avoiding the water at all costs. From bathing to washing clothes, many just don’t trust the water. With thousands of fish being found dead in local streams, who can blame them?