EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine requested that President Joe Biden declare a major disaster five months after a toxic train derailment in East Palestine sent plumes of hazardous materials into the air and impacted thousands of residents.
In a letter written to the president, DeWine says "no unmet needs have been reported to the State," but that is only because of Norfolk Southern's voluntary actions.
The governor said a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration would ensure that the state and federal government use any available resources if the train company would stop any volunteer efforts at some point in the future.
DeWine said the state requested additional time from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to request the declaration as the state continued to evaluate long term needs, but FEMA denied the request on June 29. The deadline to ask for the emergency declaration was July 3.
On Feb. 3, about 50 cars derailed in East Palestine, more than a dozen of which were carrying hazardous materials.
Three days later, crews released a toxic chemical called vinyl chloride into the air and began burning it in order to prevent a possible explosion. Residents were forced to temporarily evacuate, but have reported illnesses due to the chemicals released into the air.
Last month, East Palestine residents gathered at the Ohio Statehouse, telling DeWine to declare an emergency to get federal support.
"People are still getting sick. It started with respiratory illnesses, nose bleeds, intestinal issues,” said Jess Conard, an East Palestine resident, last month.
Clean-up near the derailment site continues months after the disaster.
To read DeWine's full letter to the president, click here.