DeWine seeks federal help for East Palestine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on a train derailment in East Palestine Tuesday afternoon.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives an update on a train derailment in East Palestine Tuesday afternoon.
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 12:42 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 12:45 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WXIX) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine requested federal help Thursday morning in response to the ongoing health and environmental concerns due to the train derailment in East Palestine.

According to the governor’s office, DeWine asked for assistance from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Health and Emergency Response Team.

The governor also sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting that they immediately send medical experts to East Palestine to assist members of the community who have questions and/or experiencing symptoms.

DeWine says he has been in daily contact with FEMA, an agency that helps rebuild and improve communities, but says he’s been told Ohio is not eligible for assistance right now.

The governor says he will continue working with FEMA to see what assistance can be provided to East Palestine.

FOX19 has reached out to FEMA for a response to the governor’s comments and will update this story when we receive a reply.

On Thursday, DeWine gave an update from state agencies that are currently in East Palestine:

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

  • Anticipating rainfall in the area, water sources on both sides of the derailment site have been dammed water sources prevent further contamination.
  • Residents may have noticed visible emissions because the railroad was using steam to heat a damaged railcar containing paraffin wax. The melted wax was then put into another tank without being exposed to the air.
  • The chemical plume of butyl acrylate in the Ohio River is currently located near Gallipolis, Ohio, and will be near Huntington, West Virginia, sometime tomorrow.
  • Testing results indicate that the chemical is currently present at levels below 3 parts per billion, which is well below the 560 parts per billion that the CDC considers hazardous.
  • Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and other agencies along the river continue to actively test the water and are closing drinking water intakes in advance of the plume.
  • Latest air monitoring results provided by the U.S. EPA continue to show no presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from the derailment
  • The air inside 474 homes has been tested for VOC’s and 30 additional homes are scheduled to be tested Thursday.
  • 3,150 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed near the derailment site. The soil has been moved into containers for proper disposal. The remaining soil is covered with mulch to absorb additional seepage and chemicals.
  • Although most contaminants did not enter local waterways, they are pooling at the derailment site in puddles and ditches. A total of 942,000 gallons of contaminants and contaminated liquid have been removed from the immediate site. It is estimated that 110,000 gallons of contaminants at the site will be removed for proper disposal within the next 24 hours.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

  • Has not received any additional reports of dead wildlife as of Thursday afternoon. The total number of aquatic animals killed is approximately 3,500.
  • Most of the deaths are believed to have been caused by the immediate release of contaminants into the water prior to mitigation efforts.

Ohio Department of Agriculture

  • Is working to determine the cause of death of a six-week-old beef calf that died on Feb. 11, in an area located about two miles away from East Palestine.
  • Continues to assure Ohioans that the food supply is safe and the risk to livestock remains low
  • There is no information to suggest that pets are not safe outside, but if someone believes a domestic animal has been sickened as a result of the chemicals from the train derailment, contact your local veterinarian.

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