Conservative Provocateur

February 16, 2023 at 05:04PM Biden admin turns down Ohio’s request for disaster assistance after toxic derailment

Brandon Nalesnik, who lives 1.5 miles from the derailment site in Pennsylvania, describes the evacuation and meeting with officials at a town hall in East Palestine, Ohio.

The Biden administration turned down a request for federal disaster assistance from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the aftermath of the train derailment in the state earlier this month that led to a large release of toxic chemicals.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Ohio’s state government that it was not eligible for disaster assistance to help the community recover from the toxic spill, Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for DeWine, told Fox News Digital on Thursday. Tierney explained that FEMA believed the incident didn’t qualify as a traditional disaster, such as a tornado or hurricane, for which it usually provides assistance.

“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,” DeWine’s office said in a statement earlier in the day. “Governor DeWine will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided.”

FEMA said that its team is in constant communication with DeWine’s office, but didn’t comment on the request for federal relief.

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine provides an update on the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Orsagos)

“FEMA is in constant contact with the emergency operations center in East Palestine and with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. We are closely coordinating with EPA, HHS, and the CDC, who are helping to test water and air quality, and to conduct public health assessments,” FEMA spokesperson Jeremy Edwards told Fox News Digital in a statement.

Tierney noted, though, that the governor was able to secure some health assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services that will go towards helping local residents with any medical care costs that stem from the incident.


He added that Norfolk Southern Railroad, the operator of the derailed train, has been providing financial assistance to the community, but that the DeWine administration was prepared to hold the company’s “feet to the fire” to ensure it continues to support the community. The Ohio attorney general’s office was prepared to intervene if Norfolk Southern Railroad let up on its relief efforts.

“The people of East Palestine need to be made whole,” Tierney told Fox News Digital.

People living near the site of an Ohio train derailment that resulted in the controlled release of toxic chemicals fear returning home. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

On Feb. 3, about 50 cars on a Norfolk Southern Railroad train carrying vinyl chloride, a dangerous colorless gas, derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, a small community that is located along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

The company opted to release the gas from the derailed cars, releasing potentially deadly fumes and other dangerous chemicals into the air, to prevent a disastrous explosion. Local residents were told to evacuate the area during the release, but were assured it was safe to return on Feb. 9.


Norfolk Southern has offered financial compensation to locals who were displaced and has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and state officials to conduct air safety tests. Health officials have assured the public that tests have shown the area is safe.

Authorities released toxic chemicals from the derailed tanker car in eastern Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

However, experts have cast doubt on the safety of the air to breathe and have also suggested residents shouldn’t accept the compensation offered by Norfolk Southern.


“The railroad company is responsible for this and for these people who went back to their homes,” Sil Caggiano, a local hazardous materials specialist, told Fox News on Tuesday. “Their homes should have been tested. Their homes should have been cleaned. From the onset, these people were being marginalized in an effort to mitigate this.”

“We want to get out the word to folks. Do not, if you can afford it, again, emphasizing if you can afford it, do not take this upfront money,” Lipson O’Shea Legal Group principal and owner Michael O’Shea, who is representing families in the region, told FOX Business. “But if you do, be aware that these folks might argue later that this is payment in full.”

FEMA didn’t immediately provide a response to Fox News Digital.

Thomas Catenacci is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.

via Fox News

About Pete Santilli