FEMA Reverses Decision, Will Deploy 'Assistance Teams' To East Palestine Following Chemical Disaster

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Feb 18, 2023 - 04:00 PM

One day after the Biden administration rejected Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's request for federal assistance in the aftermath of a derailment of a train hauling toxic chemicals, the governor tweeted late Friday evening that the Feds have reversed course in their decision and will deploy resources to East Palestine as soon as Saturday. 

"Following further discussions with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] tonight, they will be deploying federal resources to East Palestine," Gov. DeWine tweeted

The governor and FEMA released this joint statement:

"FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine. U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one. Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long term recovery needs."

The U-turn comes as FEMA Ohio told the state government on Thursday that Palestine wasn't eligible for disaster assistance to help with the clean-up effort in the toxic spill and controlled burn-off that has resulted in an environmental disaster. 

Both Ohio's senators, J.D. Vance (R) and Sherrod Brown (D), separately asked DeWine to declare a disaster in the small blue-collar town. Vance emphasized Norfolk Southern must be held accountable for any damage. 

Vance visited the small town days ago. He went to a small creek bed and filmed what appeared to be toxic chemicals from the railcars. Meanwhile, other officials have ensured the public that the 'air is clean and water is fine.' 

What's troubling is the incoherent response by the federal, state, and local governments after the derailment. What's even more alarming is the decision by the officials to burn off railcars of vinyl chloride that some say 'chem-nuked' the town and surrounding communities. 

As for the slow response by federal officials and media downplaying the chemical disaster, Legal Insurrection asks: 

"Is the Ohio Toxic Train Derailment the Biden Administration's Hurricane Katrina?" 

Here's more from Legal Insurrection:

For over a week, the Biden administration, Ohio state officials, and most of the American media has been downplaying the magnitude of the environmental disaster that has arisen due to the response to the train derailment near East Palestine.

However, in the post-covid era, Americans are no longer willing to blindly believe what "experts" assert about the "science." This is especially true when the realities run counter to the official narrative.

The EPA, with the Ohio National Guard and a Norfolk Southern contractor, also has collected air samples – checking for vinyl chloride, hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, phosgene and other compounds – in the East Palestine community, it had said. Air monitoring results posted Tuesday at the EPA's website include more than a dozen instruments, each with four types of measures – and each stating its "screening level" had not been exceeded.

But when Velez returned Monday for a short visit to the neighborhood where his family has lived since 2014 to check his home and his business, he developed a nagging headache that, he said, stayed with him through the night – and left him with a nagging fear.

"If it's safe and habitable, then why does it hurt?" he told CNN. "Why does it hurt me to breathe?"

Air contamination isn't the only concern. There is plenty of evidence, based on 3,500 dead fish that the water is polluted with the by-products of igniting several industrial chemicals in the response. Towns downstream of East Palestine are monitoring their water…and are offering their own assurances about the safety levels.

But officials with the Louisville Water Co. and Air Pollution Control District say they are monitoring the situation and don't anticipate any danger to local residents.

The violent 50-car Norfolk Southern train crash triggered evacuations for the small Ohio town on Feb. 3, as large quantities of vinyl chloride and other contaminants entered the environment. Since then, authorities have assured people near the crash site that it's safe to return to their homes. A federal lawsuit has already been filed by residents over the event.

The lack of a cohesive, effective response to civic catastrophe calls to mind the criticism of former President George W. Bush and his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina. Many Legal Insurrection readers may recall Bush and his officials were criticized for being disinterested, slow, and needlessly unprepared for the Category 5 storm and its impact on New Orleans.

It was the "flood that sank Bush."

We can now consider that Ohio's toxic train derailment is Biden's Katrina.

Clearly, Biden has not been mentioned as acting in any significant capacity for Americans dealing with this disaster. Even though the citizens of this region voted in significant numbers for President Donald Trump, they are still suffering a disaster that is truly worthy of full emergency management support.

Secretary of State Pete Buttigieg has been criticized for his tone-deaf response to the train derailment. In fact, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) has just called for Buttigieg's resignation.

Buttigieg addressed the disaster Monday, over a week after the crash occurred on Feb. 3. Residents living in areas surrounding East Palestine, Ohio, were instructed to evacuate after 50 train cars derailed and subsequently caught fire, spewing vinyl chloride, phosgene, hydrogen chloride, and other gases into the air and water.

Biggs said the acknowledgment came "10 days too late," echoing other Republicans such as Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) who were critical of the delay.

But I would like to draw some attention to the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, who hasn't gotten the scrutiny I think he deserves richly. Given the devastating environmental impact shown in videos, social media messages, and some serious reports by a few responsible journalists, you would think the EPA head would be front-and-center in the response.

However, Regan is showing up 13 days too late….and his officials are the ones who should be selecting the proper tests, conducting the complete analysis, and creating the mitigation plans.

Michael Regan, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will visit East Palestine Thursday, 13 days after a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed and caught fire in the village.

Regan announced the visit in a tweet on Wednesday, and shared a video from his interview with Fox News. Regan said he will hear from East Palestine residents in their homes, visit the derailment site and meet with emergency responders.

Regan was probably too busy pushing environmental justice programs.

And let's not forget the EPA's disastrous handling of the Animas River contamination, which resulted from that agency's decisions regarding handling a mine's waste stream.

Americans are clearly in no mood to trust "experts," especially ones clearly not interested in anything that doesn't push their narratives or agendas.