EAST PALESTINE, OH – Senator JD Vance (R-OH) visited with residents and local officials in East Palestine, OH today. Following those meetings, Senator Vance spoke with the media outside of Centenary United Methodist Church.
Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Vance’s remarks.
Excerpts of Senator Vance’s remarks:
“Obviously, I’m most concerned about the public safety component of this. Is the air breathable? Is the water drinkable? That’s the most important question. I have a few concerns on that front. First of all, we still don’t have the disaster cleaned up, so we still have toxic chemicals seeping into the water supply. That’s a real problem and I think, frankly, Norfolk Southern should be doing a lot more to clean up the contaminated soil.”
“I am very frustrated with the CDC. We’ve been going back and forth with them for a couple of days, asking them, ‘What are the acceptable levels of contamination here before this becomes endangering to human health?’ We have not yet gotten a good answer, and it’s something we’re going to keep hammering on.”
“Let me, first of all, say a word of thanks and gratitude to the first responders, to the police officers, and especially the fire fighters. I spoke to the fire chief briefly. His guys are exhausted. They’ve been doing something heroic for the last week and a half and they deserve our support. They deserve our gratitude. They also deserve the equipment they need to do their job.”
“Finally, we need to give this community long-term confidence that their health is protected. Let’s say for the sake of argument we have no concerns about the safety of the air or the water – and as I said, I do have concerns – we have a community that has been affected by this tragedy. That is justifiably very worried about what is going on. So we need to give people confidence that this is a safe place to live, to work, to raise a family.”
On President Biden’s Federal Response:
“I haven’t spoken to President Biden. My message to him is pretty simple: the Department of Transportation – your Department of Transportation – has things it can do. Stop blaming Donald Trump, a guy who hasn’t been president for 3 years, and use the powers of the Federal Government to do the things necessary to help people in this community.”
On Norfolk Southern’s Clean-Up Efforts:
“The one issue we have to be careful about is we don’t let Norfolk Southern off the hook.”
“This is maybe the most important thing that I can say on the clean-up. What I’ve heard from multiple people is that the accident happened and by Tuesday there were replacement rails allowing trains to run through that area. You cannot dig out and clean up an area if it’s covered by railroad tracks and there are trains going over it. So, the fact that they replaced the rails, I think, suggests they’re much more focused in reopening the railway than in cleaning up this community. That’s a big, big problem and it’s something we’re going to take to Norfolk Southern as soon as we leave this meeting.”