In the wake of a railroad catastrophe that has continued to worry residents in East Palestine, Ohio, a group of Ohio House members want federal and state authorities to consult with them.
A bipartisan group of 26 state Representatives sent a letter to the Ohio and United States Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) on February 22nd requesting that the two organizations “consult and advise” them on any additional potentially needed resources.
“We, the undersigned Representatives of the State of Ohio, are urging that the necessary steps be taken to contain the damage and minimize, if not erase, the risk posing residents. We ask you to consult and advise the General Assembly of any additional resources that are needed as we stand ready to act,” the letter said.
The letter mentions reports of “alarming red flags” for the neighborhood, state, and country, “especially for those individuals down river, residents in our state, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois that draw drinking water from the Ohio River have questions surrounding the chemicals.”
“While we understand vinyl chloride is troubling, other chemicals such as butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate and ethylene glycol monobutyl were also on that train, which is another reason why some Ohio families are rightfully uneasy about this situation,” the letter said.
50 train carriages, 10 of which were carrying hazardous materials, derailed in East Palestine on February 3rd. Hundreds of residents evacuated as a result of the “controlled vent and burn” of vinyl chloride that Norfolk Southern carried out on February 6th to prevent, they say, an explosion.
Officials told East Palestine residents on February 8th that they could safely go home, despite the reports of hundreds of dead fish in the Ohio river near East Palestine and residents complaining of headaches and illness since the derailment.
The U.S. EPA say most recent tests found no evidence of a risk to East Palestine Public Water users and no contamination linked to the derailment. Additionally, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission‘s most recent samples taken from the Ohio River revealed no butyl acrylate contamination.
However, there are growing reports of health concerns from residents following the derailment. Some residents this month say they have been diagnosed with bronchitis, lung issues, and rashes that doctors and nurses suspect are linked to the chemical exposure.
The letter also asks that the agencies openly discuss the risks with Ohioans, so that families can safeguard themselves and their communities.
“We also ask for a transparent process with Ohioans regarding the dangers and communicate to all parties involved what steps families should take to protect themselves and their communities. We ask for as much efficiency as possible to address this urgent matter,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by state Representatives Adam Bird (R-New Richmond), Monica Robb-Blasdel (R-Columbiana County), Andrea White (R-Kettering), Josh Williams (R-Oregon), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Adam Mathews (R-Lebanon), Melanie Miller (R-Ashland), Roy Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky), Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula), Tom Young (R-Kitts Hill), Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander), Bill Dean (R-Xenia), Angela King (R-Celina), Gary Click (R-Vickery), Rodney Creech (R-West Alexandria), Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township), Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Nick Santucci (R-Howland Twp.), Bernard Willis (R-Springfield), Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe), Sean Brennan (D-Parma), and Richard Dell’Aquila (D-Seven Hills).
– – –
Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “East Palestine” by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.