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Ohio congressman says residents near HAZMAT train derailment can return, but 'long way to go'

'Nobody's fears and concerns should be dismissed,' said Rep. Bill Johnson.

Published: February 15, 2023 12:53pm

Updated: February 15, 2023 3:47pm

Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson says residents in his home state have been given the "all clear" to return to their homes after being evacuated because of a train derailment that resulted in toxic chemicals being leaked.

He said on the John Solomon Reports podcast that the Environmental Protection Agency and local officials have given the all clear while continuing to conduct environmental tests.

"People are able to return to their homes and the testing of the water in the air will continue," said Johnson while cautioning the cleanup and other-related matters remain. 

"We got a long way to go," said Johnson, whose congressional district includes the area in which the derailment occurred Feb. 3.

"Nobody's fears and concerns should be dismissed at this point," he also said, citing the need for additional environmental testing. 

The Norfolk Southern train derailed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania, resulting in a days-long fire. Ten of the 50 train cars contained toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate, which are combustible liquids. They were siphoned off a few days ago in an attempt to avert an explosion. 

Residents in the city of East Palestine, where the accident occurred, had to evacuate out of precaution and safety but they remain concerned about the drinking water and how the spill will affect their animals.

Johnson said he has reached out to the CEO of Norfolk Southern to discuss compensation for the people who had to be evacuated.

"I made a plea to the CEO of Norfolk Southern that they expand their compensation and the cost for testing and all of those kinds of things to the entire East Palestinian community-not just within the hour, or the one mile radius of the evacuation zone," he said.  

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