OAN Roy Francis
8:45 AM PT – Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan gave a warning to the citizens of East Palestine on Tuesday.
Regan advised parents to keep themselves and their children away from creeks or steams in the area due to the toxic spill from the train derailment. He said that the drinking water has been tested and deemed safe, but that does not include creeks and streams.
“I’m a father of a 9-year-old. I think we have to all agree that we wish this accident didn’t occur. The accident occurred and as a result, some of our creeks and our streams have pollution in them. We’re working very hard to clean up that pollution for the time being while the pollution is present,” Regan said while in East Palestine on Tuesday. “As a father, I would not advise anybody, adult or child, play in the creeks or stream. What we’ve said is the drinking water has been tested. If that drinking water has been tested and a green light has been given, then we feel confident in that. But while we’re cleaning up this disaster site, I wouldn’t advise that anyone play in water that’s contaminated or soil that contaminated.”
This comes after videos have been circulating online showing the effects of the spill on the surrounding water systems. These videos caused outrage and doubt in the federal agencies that were put in charge of the cleanup efforts in East Palestine.
The administrator said that the EPA has a complete inventory for all toxic materials that were onboard the train. Having that inventory, they are, and have been, testing and monitoring for all the materials.
Regan also announced that an EPA center will be opening in East Palestine. The purpose of the center will be for residents and business owners to go get any questions they may have answered. Citizens can also go there to sign up for home air monitoring and learned about the more extensive cleaning services that are being offered.
He went on to say that Norfolk Southern will not “get off the hook” for the incident that has happened in East Palestine.
“In no way, shape or form or fashion will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created. And as the cleanup work continues at a rapid pace, EPA is awaiting Norfolk Southern’s work plan, which we will review and approve,” Regan said. “The work plan will outline every single necessary step. The environmental damage caused by the derailment, no detail will be overlooked. This work will be done that leaves this community whole again.”
Regan also assured the town and its citizens that the EPA will be monitoring the clean-up efforts, and if Norfolk Southern fails to comply with the EPA, then they will step in and do what is needed.
“I want to remind folks that at any point the company fails to comply with the actions ordered by EPA. We will immediately step in,” he said. “Conduct the work that needs to be done, and then force Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost in accordance with the powers granted to my agency.”
According to the EPA administrator, the agency is working on a monitoring system so that they can hold Norfolk Southern accountable, and when material is moving, officials have that information and can relay it to nearby communities.
“That their safety is being taken very, very seriously right here,” he said.