Gov. DeWine announced a health clinic and provided mental health resources for East Palestine at a news conference Friday while saying that the air and water continues to test safe, and vowing to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and financially responsible for the toxic train derailment on Feb. 3.
RELATED: U.S. EPA Administrator tours East Palestine and one house for an indoor air screening
Air and water monitoring
There are 20 monitors strategically placed throughout the community to continually test the quality of the air. For more accurate readings, the monitors are periodically moved around to different locations in East Palestine. Currently, there are not any concerns for air quality based on the readings of the monitors, DeWine said.
There are five municipal water wells that transport water to residents. The wells are tested daily and as of Friday, the readings from the wells continue to show the water is safe to drink.
According to DeWine, 38 private wells have been tested with results showing safe to drink. As a precaution, residents with private wells that have yet to be tested should drink bottled water until their wells are tested. Residents within a half mile can call the Residential Re-entry Hotline at 330-849-3919 to get their private well tested.
There was a trace amount of plume in the Ohio River that has dissipated as of Friday. "It was not a concern to begin with," DeWine said.
The Sulfur Run creek remains heavily contaminated. It was dammed after the crash to keep the contaminated water from flowing to other bodies of water. The governor did not say how long the remediation work on the contaminated portion of the creek will take. "It's a process," he said.
According to FEMA, the train derailment and the current state of East Palestine does not qualify for assistance as it is not considered a natural disaster, said DeWine. The state of Ohio has "preemptively" filed a document with FEMA preserving the right to apply for assistance in the future, he went on to say.
Applying for FEMA would only come should Norfolk Southern refuse to pay to remediate the issues that are present following the train derailment. The "railroad should pay," DeWine said.
Residents' health concerns
"They have suffered a great deal," the governor said about the residents of East Palestine.
In response to the increasing amount of concerns from residents regarding their health, DeWine announced the creation of a medical clinic that will available to residents regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.
The clinic, run by the Ohio Department of Health, is set to be available early next week. The location and hours for the clinic will be made available here.
Residents will have access to experts in chemical exposure from around the world to address their concerns, and evaluate symptoms.
DeWine was sure to say that the creation of the clinic is not a response to anything being seen in or air or water but to address the concerns of residents.
Mental health resources
DeWine shared the following document outlining resources available to residents at the press conference:
The Ohio CareLine is among the resources listed to address the mental distress the train derailment has caused and is available around the clock and is free of charge.
Next week, the Ohio Attorney General will provide further information in regards to potential action the State of Ohio will take against Norfolk Southern, DeWine said.
"So far, when we asked them to pay they have paid," the governor said in regards to Norfolk Southern being held responsible for and following through with funding the cleanup following the train derailment.
The governor spoke of a conversation held with the CEO of Norfolk Southern sharing concerns that the company might skip town before remediation is complete to which the CEO said, "No, we're not going to leave town. We're going to make sure we have everything cleaned up,'" according to DeWine.
"We're going to make sure they [Norfolk Southern] fulfill their duty."
Watch a replay of the news conference in the video player below:
- Sandusky leaders say cooperation from Norfolk Southern improved after East Palestine train derailment
- Ohio's senators visit East Palestine to see damage caused by Norfolk Southern train derailment
- After skipping town hall meeting, Norfolk Southern writes letter to East Palestine
View more continuing coverage of the East Palestine train derailment here.
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