State Watch

DeWine emphasizes bottled water drinking guidance issued from ‘abundance of caution’

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine provides an update on the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. About 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed on Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Patrick Orsagos)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) emphasized on Wednesday that the state’s bottled water recommendation for people living near this month’s train derailment that allowed chemicals to escape into the air is out of an “abundance of caution.” 

DeWine said in an interview on “CNN This Morning” that the air around the town of East Palestine, where a train that was carrying 20 cars of hazardous chemicals derailed on Feb. 3, has continued to remain safe as officials have conducted tests. He said officials have conducted one test of water from a well in the village that showed it was safe to drink, but residents should use bottled water until testing is complete. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have told people, use a bottle of water, don’t take a chance,” he said. 

DeWine said he would have moved back to the area if he had lived in the local community, reiterating that the air is safe to breathe. 

Officials ordered half of the 4,800 residents living near the area to evacuate after the derailment occurred. A mechanical failure reportedly forced the Norfolk Southern train off the tracks. 

The evacuation order was lifted last week after being in place for about five days. 

Officials conducted a “controlled release” of the toxic chemicals, which included a cancer-causing substance called vinyl chloride, to avoid an explosion that could have been even more dangerous to the surrounding areas. The vinyl chloride was directed into a trench and burned off. 

DeWine said officials believe the local water, which is coming into the community from deep wells, is safe, but they need to conclude their tests. 

“All we can do is give people the facts and give them the tests,” he said. 

“We’ve been on the scene since the crash actually occurred and continue to tell people exactly what we know,” he added. 

DeWine noted that water bottles are being supplied to people, and the results of the water tests will be released as soon as they are completed. 

He said Norfolk Southern, which owned the train, should pay for the effects of the derailment, like medical screenings for people for serious illnesses resulting from exposure to the chemicals. He said the CEO of the company “pledged” to him that the company is going to stay in the community to help as the cleanup continues. 

“We’re going to hold them to what they said,” DeWine said. “We’re going to hold them accountable. They’re responsible for this. They’re responsible for a very serious train wreck that occurred with some very toxic material. So we’re going to hold their feet to the fire. We’re going to make sure they pay for everything as we move forward.”

Tags Mike DeWine Mike DeWine Norfolk Southern Ohio train derailment toxic chemicals

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