NewsNation: DeWine visits East Palestine to meet with EPA, health officials

This article features Government Accountability Project’s Environmental Investigator, Lesley Pacey, and was originally published here.

(NewsNation) — Nine months after a train derailment in East Palestine and four months after he asked President Joe Biden to declare an emergency, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was in the town Friday hearing from officials about the cleanup and answering questions about how to restore trust in the community.

“The people of the community, they need to be able to see exactly what (agencies) are doing, and explain in terms a layperson, like me, can understand,” DeWine said. “So, the more we can do that, the more agencies and departments can do that, the better it is.”

DeWine spoke with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health about the Feb. 3 derailment that spilled toxic chemicals into the air, ground and water.

Some residents say their community is still sick, health problems persist and DeWine’s visit is all for show.

“We understand what’s going on. All you need is common sense,” resident Jami Wallace said. “You don’t need science. When we still have children that are covered in rashes, when we still have children or community that are suffering unexplained nosebleeds, we know that everything is not okay here.”

Lesley Pacey is an investigator with the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit suing the EPA for access to their data.

Who is Governor DeWine speaking to? Is he talking to any of the residents who are living this ongoing medical nightmare caused by the train derailment and the subsequent burning of all these chemicals? Who is he speaking with, if he’s not speaking with the residents?” Pacey said.

“That’s very concerning because they have a very scary story to tell what’s going on,” she added. “It appears to me that the government has an I don’t want to know, problem with this and that they’re awash in money from industry. So, I’ve just be concerned that this is a real visit or not.”

Biden, who has yet to visit East Palestine, bowed to pressure and recently appointed a FEMA disaster coordinator, Jim McPherson, to see if the community has “unmet needs.”

However, residents told NewsNation they simply don’t see McPherson and can’t even reach him.

“Residents did a survey of many of the residents in the community, and not a single resident was able to get in touch with the FEMA coordinator that was appointed by Biden … not a single resident has been able to get an email returned, a phone call returned,” Pacey said. “So, I don’t know how you’re supposed to assess the unmet needs of a community without speaking to the residents.”