The same day Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine declared that President Biden should go to East Palestine, Ohio, to visit residents affected by the Norfolk Southern train derailment, Biden responded to queries about visiting the area by dismissing the idea of visiting there in the immediate future.
The February 3 train derailment forced 5,000 people to evacuate the town; tens of thousands of animals reportedly died from exposure to the toxic chemicals released after the derailment.
“The president needs to come. The people want to see the president. He should be there,” DeWine told Fox & Friends. “’I just think now is the time, the president needs to come. It’s just important.’
But asked by reporters whether he intended to visit East Palestine, Biden responded, “I have spoken with every official in Ohio, Democrat and Republican, on a continuing basis… I will be out there at some point.”
Earlier this week, Rep Bill Johnson (R-OH) blasted Biden, saying:
President Biden has been conspicuously silent. … Mr. President, it’s past time for you to make the short trip to east Palestine and show up for the 5,000 Americans who call that little small Appalachian village. You pride yourself on your “Lunchbucket Joe” nickname and tout your blue-collar Scranton, Pennsylvania roots, but Mr. President, there is nowhere more blue-collar than East Ohio and no people more deserving of hearing directly from their president right now than the residents of East Palestine. They want comfort. They wanna know you care. And they want commitment.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Texas A&M University tested the air in East Palestine on February 20 and 21; Benzene, toluene, xylenes, and vinyl chloride did not reach minimal risk levels for intermediate exposures according to the standards implemented by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
But Acrolein, which is utilized on algae, plants, and rodents, and can cause inflammation, respiratory tract and mucous membranes, according to the CDC, was found to be elevated
“It’s not elevated to the point where it’s necessarily like an immediate ‘evacuate the building’ health concern,” Dr. Albert Presto, associate research professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, told CNN. “But, you know, we don’t know necessarily what the long-term risk is or how long that concentration that causes that risk will persist.”
Presto noted that some residents reported rashes and trouble breathing. “When someone says to them then, ‘everything is fine everywhere,’ if I were that person, I wouldn’t believe that statement,” he said.
“I’ve been losing my voice off and on; my lungs burn. I feel like I can’t catch my breath,” one resident said.
“Nausea, vomiting, rash, and had all the blood work and everything done,” said another.
“I think the real problem’s going to be five, ten years from now,” a third resident, who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, said.