DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has called for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to declare an official disaster in East Palestine.
According to Brown’s office, the senator sent a letter to DeWine on Thursday, Feb. 16 calling for an official disaster to be called, which would allow for greater federal support for the residents of East Palestine.
“This is an unprecedented situation; hundreds of families were forced to flee their homes and are now rightfully concerned about the potential long-term health risks associated with exposure to the toxic chemicals released. The scope, scale, and significance of this man-made disaster will be impacting the people of East Palestine and the region for years to come,” Brown writes.
“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,” Brown writes. “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.”
According to a release by DeWine’s office, officials have been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however, the agency said that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time.
This is not the first letter Ohio officials have sent concerning this incident. On Wednesday, Feb. 15, senators Brown, Vance, Casey and Fetterman sent letters to the NTSB and the EPA asking the agencies to investigate the incident and provide assistance to the community.
Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) has also sent letters to the CEO of Norfolk Southern, asking that the company expand the reach of its reimbursement program and to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg demanding answers on the derailment.