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Ohio train derailment: EPA Administrator Michael Regan gives updates from East Palestine

The train derailment, which happened nearly four weeks ago on Feb. 3, has continued to generate concerns.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — As concerns continue around the Ohio train derailment, EPA Administrator Michael Regan is back in East Palestine for another visit to the community.

His visit included a 10:30 a.m. roundtable discussion with teachers and students at East Palestine High School, which gave students and teachers the opportunity to ask Regan some of their top questions and concerns.

One of those questions was about the safety of pets.

“If your home is on a private well that hasn’t been tested, I wouldn’t have my animals drinking that water," Regan said. "I definitely would steer away from letting your pets play in creeks that have been contaminated until they’re fully clean. It’s one thing for me to say we believe -- based on the science -- that certain things are safe, it’s another thing for you all to feel comfortable.”

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Additionally on Tuesday, Regan held a press conference in front of the EPA Community Welcome Center in East Palestine. This location is where residents can meet with agency staff members to learn about resources available to support the community.

"I want to be clear that our testing — air quality testing and the state's water quality testing — has not yielded any adverse health impacts that we have seen at this moment," Regan again declared.

Those statements from Regan come even after a report from the Texas A&M Superfund Research Center said its independent sampling found chemical air pollutant levels above what would be considered safe for long-term exposure. Weihsueh Chiu, deputy director of the research center, told 3News Investigates acrolein was particularly high.

However, Regan dismissed such concerns Tuesday.

"We didn't learn anything new from that article," the administrator said. "We haven't seen any spikes since the actual explosion."

Regan also said the EPA is still awaiting Norfolk Southern's work plan for cleaning up the derailment site. Last week, the administrator announced that the EPA had Norfolk Southern to clean the crash site and that the railway company responsible for the crash would be charged triple for cost if it failed to comply with the order. Norfolk Southern has accepted the order.

"If, at any point, the company fails to comply with their actions ordered by EPA, we will immediately step in," Regan repeated today.

Later this week, another public meeting is set for this Thursday at East Palestine High School as the EPA plans to demonstrate air monitors and how they work.

The train derailment, which happened back on Feb. 3, resulted in a controlled release of chemicals amid explosion concerns involving some of the impacted rail cars.

Late last week, President Biden ordered federal teams from FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct door-to-door visits at homes throughout the East Palestine community to check on residents and their needs amid ongoing health concerns.

A White House officials said those teams had reached about 350 households by the end of the weekend.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), meanwhile, released their preliminary report regarding the derailment investigation last week, which you can read in full HERE.

"This was 100% preventable," NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters during a Thursday press conference. "We call things accidents; there is no accident. Every single event that we investigate is preventable."

There have also been several high-profile visits to the East Palestine community in recent days, including stops by former President Trump, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and activist Erin Brockovich.

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