Governor Mike DeWine on Thursday called on President Biden to visit East Palestine, the town in eastern Ohio that was upended after a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed, forcing residents to evacuate while the resulting toxic fumes were burned off.
As residents complain of health issues and fear the worst for the future, several public figures have visited the town, including former president Donald Trump, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and environmental activist Erin Brockovich. In an appearance on Fox & Friends Thursday, DeWine called on Biden to do the same.
“He should come, there’s no doubt about it. The president needs to come,” DeWine explained.
“The people want to see the president,” he explained, adding that he’s visited East Palestine four times himself.
The last time the pair spoke, Biden was in Poland.
DeWine also provided an update on what residents can expect in the short term and in the long term.
“We’re doing everything we can to monitor the air, we’re monitoring the water,” said DeWine.
“As far as the drinking water and the creeks, I think we need to make a distinction. Drinking water is coming from wells way down the ground. We’re testing the five wells that provide water for the people in the village…We tested again yesterday [and] the results were good,” he said.
However, DeWine noted there’s no doubt the creeks and streams near the derailment site are still impacted and decontaminating them will be a long-term process. During a visit to East Palestine earlier this week, Environmental Protection Agency director Michael Regan concurred, warning people against approaching contaminated streams and soil.
DeWine also explained that clinics have been set up to deal with immediate health issues. Physicians will be found for those who need them in the long run.
According to DeWine, a very significant fund will have to be set up by the railroad company in conjunction with officials. The fund will be supervised by a court.
The governor said he previously told East Palestine residents: “[That fund] ultimately is what is going to be there for you in five years, 10 years, 15 years from now.”
DeWine said he expects the railroad company to cooperate and if they don’t, legal measures will be taken.
“The railroad, while I didn’t think they were as cooperative as they could have been the first 24/48 hours…but after that as far as paying bills, they’ve paid every bill that we’ve submitted to them or to our knowledge has been submitted,” DeWine said.