Less than a week after Norfolk Southern was a no-show for East Palestine, Ohio’s community meeting about the February 3rd train derailment, EPA Administrator Michael Regan called out the company for the situation.
While speaking to ABC News after a press conference in East Palestine on Tuesday (February 21st), Regan spoke out against Norfolk Southern. “They absolutely did not handle themselves appropriately when they didn’t show up for the community meeting.”
Prior to the community meeting, Norfolk Southern issued a statement and said it was concerned about employee safety and would not be sending any representation to address the train derailment. “Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties. With that in mind, Norfolk Southern will not be in attendance this evening.”
However, the company did say that it wants to continue its dialogue with the Ohio community and address the citizens’ concerns about the train derailment. “Our people will remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents,” Norfolk Southern reassured. “We are not going anywhere.”
EPA Administrator Also Addresses Possible Health Issues Caused By Ohio Train Derailment
Regan also spoke about the Ohio community’s concerns about the chemicals that came from the train after its derailment.
When asked if he believes the headaches, sore throats, and other ailments reported by residents are related to the situation, he said, “You know, we just don’t know and I don’t want to speculate. You know, we just don’t know and I don’t want to speculate. What I want to do is assure people if they are experiencing an adverse health impact, seek medical attention and, hopefully, that information will make its way to the county health officials.”
During the press conference, Regan stated that the EPA is ordering Norfolk Southern to conduct all necessary action associated with the cleanup from the Ohio train derailment. The EPA is requiring the company to continue cleaning up the contaminated soil and water and transporting it safely. It will also reimburse the EPA for cleaning services and will attend public meetings at the EPA’s request and share information.
Regan noted that if Norfolk Southern does not comply with the EPA, it will be ordered to pay triple the cost. “Let me also be crystal clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess that they created,” Reagan continued. “And the trauma that they inflicted on this community and impacted Beaver County residents.”
Regan acknowledged that he knows the order will not undo the nightmare that families in East Palestine have been living. However, it will begin to deliver the necessary justice for the pain that Norfolk Southern has caused.