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Federal Government Finally Involved in East Palestine Cleanup

It’s about time!

After nearly three weeks of frightful panic, the residents of East Palestine, Ohio are beginning to see a light at the end of a rather terrifying tunnel.

On February 3rd, an ecological nightmare came barreling through town after a train carrying several toxic chemicals derailed.  One of those substances, vinyl chloride, was believed to pose the risk of an explosion that could send fumes and shrapnel throughout the community.  Officials decided it was best to execute a controlled explosion instead, which still caused a great deal of the chemical to spew into the air.

The railroad operator, Norfolk Southern, is now being accused by some in the town of endangering their health and safety for the sake of getting the track operational, and profitable, as quickly as possible.

Now, after weeks of waiting for some intervention, it looks like the EPA will be taking over command of the clean up.

The Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure to respond more forcefully to the train derailment that released toxic chemicals here, will take control of the response to the disaster and will require rail company Norfolk Southern to clean up the contamination, the agency’s head said Tuesday.

With the saga now in its third week, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Norfolk Southern will be required to remediate the area under a plan approved by the federal agency rather than doing the voluntary cleanup its CEO had previously pledged.

The move came after frustration from both residents and officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania with the rail company and criticism of the Biden administration’s response to the Feb. 3 crash from some lawmakers. In the two weeks since evacuated residents returned to their homes, national attention on East Palestine has intensified and residents have said they were left with questions about potential contamination and cleanup.

Norfolk Southern will have to pay for the remediation, under penalty of fines for violations. The company must also pay for cleaning services that the agency will offer to residents and businesses, participate in public meetings and share information publicly, according to the EPA.

And that wasn’t all.

Also Tuesday, a federal team opened a health clinic for East Palestine residents, some of whom have complained of headaches, nausea and dizziness since returning to their homes. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his department would begin a round of inspections on train routes used for transporting hazardous materials and called for the rail industry to implement new safety measures.

Locals have also reported the sudden deaths of pets and livestock, some that occurred within hours of the controlled blast and subsequent fire.

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