‘Drink the water’: Gov. Mike DeWine on Ohio derailment concerns

(NewsNation) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had no problem drinking a glass of water at a home near the train derailment site on Tuesday morning, despite mounting contamination concerns from residents.

Based on the water testing results he has seen so far, NewsNation asked DeWine if he would be confident drinking the water not just once, but each day, if his family lived in East Palestine.

“If I lived here, Fran and I have eight kids, we have 26 grandkids. So if any of them lived here, you know, I would tell them, ‘Drink the water if you’re on the village system,’” DeWine said.

In a one-on-one interview for “NewsNation: Rush Hour,” DeWine acknowledged the skepticism among residents to drink the water and promised the state would support the people of East Palestine for as long as it takes for the community to recover.

“I understand skepticism,” DeWine said. “I understand that people are concerned, and they have every right to be concerned. This is a traumatic event that has occurred in this community, something they’ve never experienced before, few villages have, few cities have. So they have a right to be skeptical.”

The governor added: “We have a commitment to the people of East Palestine; we’re going to be here for the long run.”

However, residents, including Rick and Tammy Tsai, are still weary of the hazardous material that was inside ten of the 50 cars that derailed.

“It’s funny that we’re told to believe what we say and not what you see. I invite anybody to come over to my house. We’ll take a walk over to the creek and you’ll see deadly chemicals poisoning the entire area,” Rick said Sunday during an interview with Natasha Zouves on “NewsNation Prime.”

The EPA previously identified at least four chemicals that were on board: vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene.

DeWine’s assurance comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a major step towards holding the involved train company responsible.

The EPA issued a legally binding order that will force the Norfolk Southern Railway to clean up the site of the disaster and pay all associated costs.

If it doesn’t adhere to the standards of the EPA, the federal government can charge them three times the costs of cleanup.

“In no way shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created. This order represents one of EPA’s strongest authorities to hold a company accountable for jeopardizing a community’s health and safety,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said at a news conference.

DeWine said continuing to test the water each week is a priority. He said one of the obstacles officials are facing is “garbage” on the internet and a lack of community trust.

“We just have to try to build this trust over time, and we have to be very transparent. We have to put out the data, and so that’s what we’re continuing to do is put out that information,” DeWine said.

While DeWine is pledging to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the derailment and release of toxic chemicals, the governor said he would not be returning money the rail company donated to his campaigns and inauguration fund.

“What we do with any money left over from the inaugural, we give that to charity and we intend to do that,” he said.

DeWine is calling on Congress to make changes to rail regulations when it comes to transporting hazardous materials. He says the number of train derailments each year is “not acceptable.”


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