Breaking News
More () »

US Senate committee to hold hearing 'soon' on East Palestine train derailment

The leaders of the Committee on Environment and Public Works say they will question local, state, and federal leaders about the response to the accident.

WASHINGTON — With the Norfolk Southern Railway and even some political officials under fire following the train derailment in East Palestine, the leaders of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works say they plan to hold a hearing on the incident "soon."

Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) issued the following statement Friday:

"The recent Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has led to serious health and safety concerns from the surrounding communities. Given these concerns, we will hold a committee hearing soon on the environmental and public health impacts of this incident. Our focus will be to examine the local, state and federal response in the immediate aftermath of the train derailment and the ongoing efforts to clean up toxic chemicals in the surrounding environment. We believe this is an important step to ensure that response prioritizes the health and safety of those impacted by this terrible accident."

Roughly 50 cars from the massive Norfolk Southern freight train either derailed or were damaged in the wreck back on Feb. 3, and an estimated 10 of those cars were carrying some sort of hazardous materials. Due to the threat of explosion, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine authorized a "controlled release" of vinyl chloride from five cars, while other potentially dangerous liquids like butyl acrelate managed to seep into nearby waterways.

Representatives from both the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies have cited repeated tests showing the air and municipal drinking water in East Palestine are safe, but residents have continued to raise concerns about chemical odors in the air, and officials have warned private water wells need to be thoroughly checked before being used. A plume of chemicals also made its way down the Ohio River towards Sen. Capito's home state of West Virginia, although state leaders have said levels of those chemicals were well below hazardous levels and DeWine told reporters Friday that the plume has since completely dissipated.

The committee has not specified when the hearing will take place, nor is it known which officials could be called to testify. Both Democrats and Republicans in recent days have vowed to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the crash, and multiple lawsuits have already been filed against the railroad. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the exact cause of the derailment.

Before You Leave, Check This Out