Lawrence Co. roundtable on E. Palestine train derailment concerns
On Friday evening, dozens of officials from local communities within Lawrence County met to discuss the impact the train derailment has had on their region.
Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly organized this meeting to hear what the concerns are across the Ohio border with some boroughs and townships just miles from the derailment site.
Many emphasize worries that Lawrence County is being forgotten and they're concerned about the lack of communication from state and federal leaders.
"We wanted to hear from them what their greatest concerns were, and it really did come down to us still not knowing what we should be concerned about," explained Congressman Kelly after the roundtable. "We don't really know we don't trust what we're being told."
The driving concern comes from southwestern Lawrence County which is the area most affected by the train derailment. The area includes Little Beaver Township, Enon Borough, North Beaver Township and Beaver Borough. Frustrations brewed in the discussion about the lack of communication and answers from state and federal leaders.
"The good news is, I think we're starting to see more information come out," said Dan Vogler, Lawrence County Commissioner. "But initially, that information was not coming out quickly enough and not coming out sufficiently enough to us."
Vogler said people living in Western Pennsylvania have came to him with concerns about the potential impact on their wells and air quality. Vogler is referring people to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's website to inquiry about testing.
Even in Lawrence County, there's also concern about access to water, air, and soil quality testing and whether it will be paid for by the EPA.
"We know at this point the testing will not be paid for by residents because they had absolutely nothing to do with what happened here," Kelly added. "It's going to be our job to stay on top of that."
"The cloud did not stay within that one mile," explained Loretta Spielvogel, Lawrence County Commissioner. "So, where did it go, where did it dissipate? People are nervous. They're worried. They're concerned. When you don't have the information for them, you can't ease their minds."
Spielvogel said she hasn't heard of any Lawrence County residents wanting to test their homes but she assumes some are interested. "It's just the concern and worries and distrust that they aren't getting. And I hear it, sure."
"How severe is this, how critical is this, is it going to affect my family," Kelly explained as some lingering questions came from local leaders. "Is it going to affect my livestock, is it going to affect the air I breathe or the water I drink?"
So what's the next step? Congressman Kelly told 21 News he plans to host another session with local leaders and state legislators to gather more information on the derailment to help keep constituents informed.