Senator J.D. Vance reflects on U.S. Senate committee hearing, East Palestine concerns
After making his way back from last week's train derailment Senate committee hearing, Senator J.D. Vance made another stop in East Palestine on Monday.
While Vance believes the Senate committee hearing went well, he's still hoping Norfolk Southern follows through on their promises to the people of the village.
Vance told the media in a press conference Monday he continues to hear specific concerns from those living in town and says this process of getting them the answers they need is far from over.
While he hopes promises made by Norfolk Southern are followed through, he said he was impressed by the responses from Norfolk Southern's CEO.
"Alan Shaw said that he liked the intent behind our railway safety legislation that I think would hopefully make things like this much less common," Vance explained. "So much of this is about promises and whether they're going to follow through with the promises."
While visiting the derailment site Monday, he continued to hear concern from residents on how long the cleanup process of hazardous materials is taking.
"You've got tons of toxic dirt, why can't we get it out of our communities?" Vance said. "That's a totally reasonable question to ask. No one wants to live near mounds of toxic dirt that need to be disposed of, but it also shows a lack of federal commitment to what's going on here in East Palestine.
Vance continues to hear lasting frustrations about whether or not to trust the current air and water quality levels. Vance disapproves of the EPA still not testing for dioxins. He is also hearing complaints East Palestine residents are unable to get air and water quality tests done on their properties. "A lot of people feel they don't have that. If they have been able to get it, it's taken way too long," he said.
"There's going to be a tough balancing act over the next few years about how to support the people who stay in East Palestine and help the rebuilding effort while also making sure nobody is trapped here," Vance said. "We're going to have to strike that balance in the right way."
Vance hopes for bipartisan support for several new proposed bills on rail safety. He said Congressman Bill Johnson plans to introduce new legislation this week. Vance also called on the White House to commit to the cleanup effort still happening throughout the village.
Vance also gave a nod to the media for continuing to broadcast the concerns of the public so they do not go unnoticed.