State And Regional

Ohio Senators call on EPA to determine if train derailment is public health emergency

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Two U.S. Senators have called on the EPA to study the aftermath of the hazardous derailment in East Palestine, according to a spokesperson from both offices.

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U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) want the EPA to determine if the derailment is a public health emergency under the Comprehensive, Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

If the EPA determines it is a public health emergency, it will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to provide Medicare coverage to Ohioans impacted, the spokesperson said.

Federal, state, and local government entities are monitoring and assessing the air, groundwater, and drinking water in East Palestine and surrounding communities to make sure it is safe.

But, the Senators call for an assessment of the long-term potential for contaminants to move and impact surface, ground, or drinking water in the region, the spokesperson said.

“We’re just trying to undo that logjam, trying to persuade people that, look, these folks are going to have some health care consequences for the long term. They didn’t ask for it. They didn’t bring this upon themselves. And I think it’s time for them to have some access to the health care they need,” Vance said.

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They want this assessment to be done to prevent any chance of serious medical conditions linked to exposure to environmental contaminants from the derailment.

“The long-term environmental and public health impact of this exposure on residents remains unknown and may not become apparent for years to come. No affected resident of East Palestine or its surrounding communities should have to worry about affording necessary health care, now or in the future,” the Senators wrote.