The Federal Emergency Management Agency will deploy federal resources to the site of a train derailment in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Friday evening after saying earlier this week that the agency had deemed the state ineligible.
“FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine. U.S. EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one,” DeWine said Friday night in a joint state with FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas Sivak.
Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team to support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs.”
A train operated by Norfolk Southern Railway derailed in the town of East Palestine on Feb 3, spilling several hazardous chemicals including vinyl chloride, a toxic substance used in production of plastics.
Earlier this week, DeWine said the federal agency had determined the town was not eligible for FEMA aid despite concerns about water and air quality, saying “although FEMA is synonymous with disaster support, they’re most typically involved with disasters where there is tremendous home or property damage” such as hurricanes or tornadoes. DeWine initially ordered the evacuation of residents in the affected area, rescinding the order five days later.
Both of Ohio’s senators, Sherrod Brown (D) and J.D. Vance (R) have separately urged DeWine to declare a disaster in the state, although Vance emphasized Thursday that such a declaration must not put the onus on the state and federal government rather than Norfolk Southern to be accountable for any damage.
The governor’s statement did not clarify whether the resources FEMA is making available would include the specific aid the agency initially declined. The Hill has reached out to DeWine’s office for comment.