EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — On the same day that he requested federal help amid the fallout from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sent a letter to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting medical experts be sent to the Columbiana County village "to evaluate and counsel members of the community who have questions and/or are experiencing symptoms."
"This request for medical experts includes, but is not limited to, physicians and behavioral health specialists," DeWine's letter reads. "Some community members have already seen physicians in the area but remain concerned about their condition and possible health effects -- both short and long-term."
DeWine's letter comes one day after he told MSNBC that East Palestine residents are safe as both air and water testing continues following the Feb. 6 controlled release of hazardous chemicals that came as a result of the Feb. 3 derailment. Residents in the area, however, are encouraged to continue to drink bottled water or have their water tested if they have a private supply.
Officials have confirmed for days the presence of a chemical plume in the Ohio River, said to be containing liquid butyl acrylate that leaked from one of the rail cars. According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's testing results, the current level of butyl acrylate in the water stands at 3 parts per billion, well below the CDC's limit of 560 parts per billion that would make the water hazardous.
The plume is currently advancing westward down the river and is expected to be near Huntington, West Virginia sometime tomorrow. While officials in that state say the water remains safe, certain drinking water intakes have been closed out of an abundance of caution, and crews are still working to remove as much of the the chemicals as possible from the river.
With the forecast in East Palestine calling for rain as early as the early hours of Friday morning, DeWine also said that emergency response teams have put plans in place to prevent contaminants that have not yet been removed from the derailment site from washing into local waterways during the storms.
According to a release, clean creek water will be pumped away from the point of the eastern dam near the crash site, funneling it away from the dry creek bed area, and releasing it back into Sulphur Run at the western dam. The process will allow clean water to bypass the area of the derailment and prevents clean creek water from picking up contaminants and carrying them into other waterways, as well as control any contaminated rainwater runoff, which will run into the dry creek bed where it will be removed and remediated.