The owner of an East Palestine, Ohio, farm told Republican Sen. J.D. Vance Wednesday she is worried about the short and long-term effects of the recent train derailment in the area, criticizing authorities’ response to the disaster.
The Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern freight train derailment disaster spilled chemicals including vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate, and a controlled burn at the site meant to prevent an explosion released hazardous chemicals into the air. The farm owner said Wednesday she was in the process of selling her nearby Darlington, Pennsylvania, house in hopes of moving to the East Palestine farm inherited from her father, but now doubts people will want to buy the house or the farm’s livestock, arguing, “This is affecting our livelihood, not just today or tomorrow, but in the future.” (RELATED: Biden’s Ukraine Visit Is A ‘Slap In The Face’ To Residents Of Town Near Toxic Train Wreck, GOP Rep Says)
“The thing that upsets me most, because I’ve heard it numerous times, they’re referring to us as the ‘low class people of East Palestine,'” the farmer told Vance. “We’re not low class. We’re not stupid. We weren’t born last night. I know that that chemical’s laying on the top of the ground, and until we get a heavy rain or a heavy snow and it pulls that down into the ground, our wells aren’t affected right now. You can test wells all day long. It doesn’t matter, it hasn’t reached there yet.”
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan claimed during his Thursday visit to East Palestine that drinking water in the area was safe, though the Ohio Department of Health urged the minority of residents using private wells to drink bottled water prior to testing, CBS News reported. The farmer wondered aloud to Vance whether her animals were safe, adding, “I don’t even want to put in a garden this year, because I don’t know what’s on the surface of the ground.”
“Who’s gonna buy my house in Darlington?” the farmer asked. “I’m three miles from ground zero. But because I’m over the state line I’m getting no help whatsoever. Yesterday was the first day somebody showed up to give us water.”
Vance told the farmer that investments in the community over the coming months and years must occur “to keep everything afloat.” He agreed with her desire to have her well tested every six months for the next decade, saying, “We have to stay on top of it.”
Buttigieg told Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter Jennie Taer when she confronted him Wednesday about the derailment that he was “taking some personal time,” and asked Taer if he could take a photo of her. Buttigieg’s response sparked criticism, with Taer’s video going viral on social media and appearing on cable news.
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