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'I have not called him back': DeWine suggests he turned down federal assistance for train wreck

The governor said that Ohio and the EPA are working to slow the flow of contaminated water.

Published: February 14, 2023 4:08pm

Updated: February 14, 2023 4:28pm

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday indicated that his administration had not accepted an offer of federal assistance from the White House to manage a catastrophic chemical train wreck that has been burning near a small town for the last several days.

The Republican governor made the claim during a press conference on Tuesday in which officials offered updates on the train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, along the Ohio Pennsylvania border on Feb. 3. The subsequent controlled burn of the chemicals contained on the train has generated intense concerns of chemical contamination from the crash site.

"Look, the president called me and said, 'Anything we can do'," DeWine said at one point. "I have not called him back after that conversation."

"We will not hesitate to do that if we are seeing a problem or anything, but I'm not seeing it," he added. 

Authorities following the derailment on Feb. 3 elected to perform a controlled burn in order to disperse the dangerous chemicals at the site. DeWine on Tuesday said officials were concerned that one of the rail cars was going to explode.

The governor spoke sharply about the responsibility held by the rail company, Norfolk Southern, in addressing the crisis. 

"Norfolk Southern is responsible for this problem," he said. "We fully expect them to live up to what the CEO committed to me, and that is that they will pay for everything."

"If they don't, we've got an attorney general here that will file a lawsuit," he added.

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