EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Ten days after a train carrying hazardous chemicals was derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, resulting in a temporary evacuation and concerns about the lingering effects of a controlled release, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has taken to Twitter to comment on the matter.
During a series of tweets posted on Monday night, Buttigieg shared that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was conducting tests for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and "other chemicals of concern." He also revealed that the EPA has screened 291 homes and no detections were identified, with 181 homes in the area still yet to be screened.
"I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the Feb 3 train derailment near East Palestine, OH, and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended through no fault of their own. It’s important that families have access to useful & accurate information," Buttigieg tweeted. "USDOT has been supporting the investigation led by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Our Federal Rail Administration and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials teams were onsite within hours of the initial incident and continue to be actively engaged.
"We will look to these investigation results & based on them, use all relevant authorities to ensure accountability and continue to support safety," the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, added, before noting that anyone looking to request a screening can do so by calling call 330-849-3919 or visiting the EPA's website.
Buttigieg's comments come as the Secretary of Transportation has faced criticism for his public response — or lack thereof — to the derailment and its fallout. In particular, many took issue with him not providing a detailed update on the situation as he addressed the National Association of Counties conference, as he joked about spy balloons that have been spotted in the United States.
The fallout from the Feb. 3 derailment has received national attention in recent days, with the East Palestine Police Department warning residents of having "at risk" drinking water and following the controlled release of the chemicals inside the train, which occurred on Feb. 6. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is set to provide at an update on the situation during a press conference at 3 p.m. on Monday.