The Ohio Department of Health will open a clinic in East Palestine to respond to medical concerns residents are reporting after a train derailment cast a toxic chemical plume over the town, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday.
The clinic will be accessible to residents beginning next week to answer questions, evaluate residents and provide medical expertise, according to an update posted by the Ohio Emergency Medical Agency. Residents reported headaches and rashes after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in early February, which led to the temporary evacuation of nearly 2,000 residents to conduct a controlled release of toxic chemicals, according to the Columbus Dispatch. (RELATED: Buttigieg Says ‘Situation’ In Ohio Getting ‘High Amount Of Attention’ Though Train Derailments Happen All The Time)
“We know that the science says that East Palestine is safe, but we also know that residents are very worried,” DeWine said, according to the EMA update. “They are asking themselves ‘Is my headache just a headache? Or is it a result of the chemical spill? Are other medical symptoms caused by the spill?’ Those are very legitimate questions and residents deserve answers.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will send officials to help staff the clinic and will work alongside the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. EPA, the update reads. Officials will be experts on chemical exposures.
The location and hours of the clinic will be available at the Ohio EMA website.
“Everybody’s worried, myself included and my wife and family members, and everybody’s just worried about the lasting effects of this,” Chris Sigler, an East Palestine resident, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
DeWine sought Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance but was rejected because the derailment did not qualify as a traditional disaster, DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney previously confirmed to the DCNF. The state has received aid from HHS, the EPA and the Pentagon, and Norfolk Southern is paying for expenses related to the incident.
The company also paid a $1,000 “inconvenience fees” to East Palestine residents, the Intelligencer reported.
The EPA has tested 500 homes to date and has found no detection of “volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with the train derailment,” the update reads. It will test more than two dozen homes Friday and continue monitoring the outdoor air.
While the municipal drinking water has been deemed “safe to drink,” residents are advised to continue drinking bottled water until their private wells are tested, according to the update. There is no detection of “butyl acrylate or any other contaminant associated with the derailment” in the Ohio River.
The Ohio Department of Health, HHS and the Ohio EPA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. Norfolk Southern could not be reached. DeWine’s office referred the DCNF to his Friday press conference.
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