EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WTRF) — The attention of the nation shifted to Eastern Ohio on February 3rd…and hasn’t looked away since.
The East Palestine toxic train derailment produced a lasting fear among residents, which Governor Mike DeWine sympathized with in his visit Friday.
The governor walked through the doors of the East Palestine Memorial Public Library to speak with a recovering community.
He spoke with nonprofits, first responders and help agencies about the still-ongoing cleanup…as the cost closes in on $1 billion.
DeWine says he wanted to know what they’ve been seeing…and that the state won’t move on from them anytime soon.
“We committed when this tragedy started that we were not only here for a few days, we’re going to be here and stay here.”Gov. Mike DeWine, (R) Ohio
As 2023 comes to a close, one group of stakeholders is the voice of East Palestine regarding the disaster—and still meets every other week.
The faith-based organization The Way Station says the lingering concern is still long-term health effects, following reports of rashes and difficulty breathing in the derailment’s aftermath.
“Folks here would like to get some sort of baseline on their health today, even if they’re not showing any symptoms. They want to be able to say in two, four, ten years from now, this is what I was and this is what I am now, is it related to the train derailment?”Chaney Nezbith, Executive Director, The Way Station
DeWine says those answers are coming in the form of help from the federal government.
While the EPA is still conducting tests, President Joe Biden has not officially declared East Palestine a disaster site.
However, DeWine says he’s more interested in what’s being done on the ground.
“How we label things I don’t think is as important as what we do…Transparency is the key. You know, nothing hidden, everything open. Will people continue to have doubts, will they have concerns? Sure, It’s human nature.”Gov. Mike DeWine, (R) Ohio
After the public library, the governor spoke visited a high school science club and the derailment site.
So far, Ohio has committed $1.5 million for a permanent health clinic, along with $150,000 for new drones and fire trucks.