‘Environmental Disaster’: JD Vance Wants Answers on Ohio ‘Chernobyl’ Chemical Derailment

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance has said the number of reports of the chemical contamination of waterways and dead wildlife following the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, are “alarming,” and is encouraging locals to report incidents to his office.

In a statement uploaded to his website and social media, the junior Republican Senator from Ohio said he was horrified by the “frightening” images of plumes of giant black smoke over East Palestine in his home state, following a derailment of a train carrying vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals. He noted that the smoke came as a result of a “controlled burn” by authorities, releasing chemicals like butyl acrylate into the atmosphere.

“While those plumes of smoke are now gone, many questions remain,” Vance said, questioning whether the air and water was safe for residents. The Senator noted that while tests performed by state and federal agencies have been “encouraging,” he described the reports of “contaminated waterways and effects on wildlife” as “alarming.”

He added that there are “many questions” remaining as to why it happened, including about the quality of the trains themselves, and the Transportation Department’s regulatory approach to rail.

“Aside from this incident, there is a troubling trend of catastrophic infrastructure problems in our country, and more than a few reports of sabotage,” Vance noted. Shortly before Vance released his statement, another train derailed in Enoree, South Carolina.

Eric Whitining told The Washington Post that the air in East Palestine smells like an “over-chlorinated swimming pool,” burning his eyes. One local resident claimed her chickens died shortly after the explosion, with another, Taylor Holzer, telling reporters that his fox died. “Out of nowhere he just started coughing really hard and just shut down and went very fast,” he said.

Another resident, Russell Murphy, saw “hundreds” of dead fish in a local creek, five miles away from the explosion and 48 hours after it occurred, telling KDKA that the explosion was having “huge enviromental effects.”

Vance encouraged anyone with “credible reports of environmental harms” from the contamination to contact his office, who would also continue to work FEMA to ensure that firefighters get the equipment they need, and with Ohio officials to ensure “appropriate environmental testing continues” in the area.

“This is a complex environmental disaster with impacts that may be difficult to assess in the short term,” Vance concluded. “Long-term study will be imperative.”

He added, “As will long-term commitment to remediation by Norfolk Southern for the property damaged, the wildlife disrupted, and the community scarred by this accident.”

This news and commentary by Jack Hadfield originally appeared on Valiant News.


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