Lawmakers seek transparency from EPA on train derailment cleanup
A group of legislators is asking the U.S. EPA to provide transparency about cleanup efforts following the East Palestine train derailment.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, members of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology committee said that although the agency has reported that the area is safe, many residents have reported evidence of chemical residue in the environment and experiences of negative health conditions.
“We expect the EPA to prioritize protecting the residents of East Palestine and ensuring a clean environment for the future,” the letter said. “Effective and efficient policies and procedures for hazardous material cleanup and sample collection and testing are vital to ensuring both priorities. The EPA needs to be open and transparent with the American people.”
The lawmakers are seeking insight into the processes and procedures the EPA has taken during cleanup and to better anticipate the potential impacts the train derailment will have on the environment moving forward.
The EPA’s early reports have done little to assuage public concerns, as residents have received conflicting information regarding their safety,” the letter said. “They have been told that their environment is safe, while also being instructed to consume only bottled water sources. The EPA is now reporting that while the water supply in East Palestine is not contaminated, the water in nearby Sulfur Run is grossly contaminated. Sulfur Run is connected to several other creeks in the area that all empty into the Ohio River. As a response, a containment area has been established to isolate any contaminated water. Despite these efforts and continued testing by the EPA, residents report a consistent pungent odor as well as concerning symptoms for both the area’s residents and their livestock. Burning sensations in the mouth, lips, and tongue as well as tongue swelling, runny nose, and watery eyes have been among the symptoms reported.”
Congressman Max Miller, a republican from Ohio and chairman of the environment subcommittee, joined Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, a republican from Oklahoma; Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren, a democrat from California; Subcommittee Ranking Member Deborah Ross, a democrat form North Carolina; Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Jay Obernolte, a republican from California; Ranking Member Valerie Foushee, a democrat from North Carolina, and Representative Jim Baird, a republican from Indiana
The lawmakers sent a list of several questions including how sample sites are selected; what standards are being utilizing in collection and storage of materials; what air monitoring and sampling, water sampling, and soil and sediment sampling methods and technologies are being used; and how the agency expects the incident to affect the area long term.
The committee is requesting the EPA respond to the proposed questions in the letter by April 6.