By Sterling Mosley. Media: DC Enquirer.
Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author’s opinion.
On Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) revealed that the Biden administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still stonewalling in providing aid to East Palestine, Ohio following a train derailment two weeks ago that led to hazardous materials contaminating the air and local water supply of the area.
As previously reported by the DC Enquirer, a train carrying hazardous materials derailed on February 3rd, and the chemicals were subsequently set aflame in a controlled burn which has thus far led to the contamination of the air and water in the area. Most concerning is the prevalence of vinyl chloride.
Documentation from the New Jersey Department of Health dating to the Paulsboro, New Jersey Derailment incident of 2012 lays out the hazards of vinyl chloride.
- “Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas. It has a mild, sweet odor. It is a manufactured substance that does not occur naturally. Vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is used to make a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials.”
- “When it is breathed in, vinyl chloride is absorbed through the lungs into your bloodstream and is circulated throughout the body. Once in the body, your liver changes it into several substances. Most of these new substances also travel in your blood; once they reach your kidneys, they leave your body in your urine. Most of the vinyl chloride and the new substances are gone from your body within a day after you breathe it in. However, some of the new substances react in the liver and, depending on how much vinyl chloride you breathe in, may produce damage there. “
Professor Kevin Crist, the director of Ohio University’s Air Quality Center told ABC News. “Breathe those in under heavy concentrations, and it’s really bad for you,” Crist advised. “It’s like an acid mist. It’s not something that you want to be around in high concentrations.”
In response to the tragedy, Governor DeWine has reached out to the federal government for help but has been stonewalled by the Biden administration which is seemingly unwilling to aid the fledgling community.
“Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke with officials at the White House early this morning to address the need for federal help,” DeWine said in a statement. “As a result of this conversation, the Governor has requested assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health and Emergency Response Team, and the CDC to provide on-the-ground assistance in East Palestine.”
“The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however, FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time,” the Ohio executive explained. “Governor DeWine will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided.”
I spoke w/ the White House early this morning to address the need for federal help in East Palestine. As a result of this conversation, I have requested assistance from the U.S. Dept of Health/Human Services, Health & Emergency Response Team, & CDC to provide direct support.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) February 16, 2023
DeWine’s statement comes as Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the governor to declare an emergency writing in a statement, “A man-made disaster of this scale, scope, and significance necessitates a response and deployment of resources that are commensurate in scale and scope.”
“I’m grateful for all that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Emergency Management Agency, local firefighters, and local law enforcement have done to respond to this unprecedented disaster, but it’s critical we act quickly to supplement those efforts,” the senator continued. “Additional federal resources can and should play a critical role in helping our fellow Ohioans get back on their feet and ensure that their community is a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”
I'm calling on @GovMikeDeWine to officially declare a disaster in East Palestine. @OhioEPA has been working hard and we need to activate all available federal resources to help the East Palestine community.https://t.co/9nxcOPb4SK
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) February 16, 2023
With the Biden administration unwilling to help those in need with federal resources, it is paramount that DeWine declares an emergency to at least get more state resources to the area. If Biden refuses to step up then local officials should do all they can to assist those in need.