EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The U.S. EPA Administrator toured East Palestine including a creek where mitigation work is being done and a home inside the one mile radius evacuation zone.
Kristina Ferguson has lived in East Palestine all her life.
“I want to hear that my creek is going to be clear. I played in that as a child,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson was fighting tears talking with News 5 Investigators about her childhood home and family.
They’re staying in a hotel, including her mother and stepfather who are in their 80’s.
“They’re crying. She just wants to be home. It’s her house, it’s her life,” Ferguson said.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured Ferguson’s house as another indoor air quality screening took place. The EPA said they were testing for volatile organic compounds and hydrogen chloride.
Ferguson says high readings from a previous screening were in her mom’s bedroom and laundry room.
“We should not have been let back into town until all of this was done,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson told Regan they were let down.
Regan also took a tour at Sulfur Run creek which runs through downtown East Palestine and right behind Ferguson’s house.
News 5 Investigators asked if he could say how far the scope will be beyond the one-mile evacuation zone and whether it would be extended.
“Well you know the science will dictate how far it spans out so we’re trusting the science but we believe we’re looking at the proper radius’ to ensure we’re protecting public safety,” Regan said.
People have told News 5 about their health concerns about getting cancer and dying.
We asked Regan about those concerns.
“For those who have some concerns please reach out to the EPA,” Regan said.
Regan said during the creek tour the remediation work at Sulfur Run is standard practice.
“We’ve got booming here to try to keep the contamination the sheen on top of the water from continuing downstream,” said an EPA employee.
The EPA says in the long-term they’ll work on the shoreline for contaminated soil.
“We haven’t had rainfall yet and we want to be able to capture anything out of the soil bank,” the EPA said.
“We see you, we hear you and we understand why there’s anxiety,” Regan said.
Ferguson wants the town back the way it was before the derailment and controlled chemical burn.
Part of that includes her house thoroughly scrubbed before she returns.
“I want a complete wiping and cleaning from a hazmat crew not fire restoration I have gasses from that creek in my home,” Ferguson said.
News 5 Investigators asked Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel if any surface testing is happening.
“That testing is not currently being done in terms of surface testing by the state of Ohio. I think it’s a possibility,” Vogel said.
Vogel went on to say that she knows there are some toxicologists doing surface testing privately that they haven’t found residue where they’ve been looking and the nature of the controlled release was such that the materials combusted.
Ferguson told News 5 Investigators that today’s readings from the indoor air screening were higher than the first test five days ago. She says she was told the air is safe but just doesn’t believe it.
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