Footage of Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) disturbing a creek bed in East Palestine, Ohio, and causing chemical bubbles to rise to the surface garnered millions of views as the nation becomes increasingly concerned about the fallout from the nearby Norfolk Southern train derailment.
Local and state authorities previously evacuated all residents within one mile of the derailment and started a controlled burn of industrial chemicals present on the vehicle to decrease the risk of an explosion, which could have sent shrapnel throughout the small town. Vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, was released from five train cars last week in the form of massive plumes of dark smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
In footage posted by Vance on Thursday afternoon, the newly elected lawmaker stood next to a small creek in East Palestine. Beyond the “dead worms and dead fish” he observed in the water, Vance used a stick to disturb the bottom of the creek; moments later, an oily sheen of chemicals emerged to the surface of the water.
“This is disgusting,” he commented. “The fact that these chemicals are still seeping in the ground is an insult to the people who live in East Palestine. Do not forget these people.”
Visited a local creek in East Palestine today. These waterways are still very polluted. It’s time for Norfolk Southern to finish the cleanup. Check this video out: pic.twitter.com/4lsHBmrMJj
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 16, 2023
The footage comes after federal and state officials insisted that the water in East Palestine is currently potable. The EPA said that “test results from the village’s municipal well sampling showed no water quality concerns,” while Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced that tests conducted by the Ohio EPA revealed “no detection of contaminants in raw water from the five wells that feed into East Palestine’s municipal water system.” He added that the agency is “confident that the municipal water is safe to drink.”
Fox 19 anchor Tricia Macke shared a similar video in which she threw a rock into a creek and caused chemicals to rise to the surface. “Would you stay here? Would you drink that water?” she asked. “Would you bathe your kids when it’s bubbling up and looking like an oil slick?”
— Tricia Macke (@FOX19Tricia) February 16, 2023
Vance also challenged EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who visited East Palestine on Thursday, to drink the tap water his agency claimed was safe. “If I was living here, I would drink the bottled water for now. Better safe than sorry, especially because it’s being provided for free,” he told reporters. “That’s the advice I would give, and again, the residents are going to make their own decisions on this.”
DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney said in a statement to Fox News that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, rejected the state’s request for federal aid because the incident purportedly did not qualify for assistance. Ohio was able to receive some help through the Department of Health and Human Services to assist residents who need medical care as a result of the derailment and controlled burn.
Beyond concerns with the water, residents have mentioned a lingering smell in the air, deceased wildlife and livestock, and various health issues. One first responder said in an interview with The Daily Wire that he and his colleagues experienced “bad cough, headaches, sore throat, and diarrhea” after assisting community members impacted by the derailment.