House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Environment Subcommittee Chairman Max Miller (R-OH), Ranking Member Deborah Ross (D-NC), Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Ranking Member Valerie Foushee (D-NC), and Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN) sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan requesting information about the processes and procedures that the EPA has taken during the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment cleanup.
The EPA’s actions since conducting the cleanup have raised serious concerns regarding process and testing quality. Although the agency deemed the area safe for return, residents have reported negative health conditions and evidence of chemical residue in the environment. This has created confusion among residents and distrust of information being presented by state, local, and federal authorities.
“The EPA’s early reports have done little to assuage public concerns, as residents have received conflicting information regarding their safety,” the members wrote. “They have been told that their environment is safe, while also being instructed to consume only bottled water sources.” They noted that, “residents report a consistent pungent odor as well as concerning symptoms for both the area’s residents and their livestock. Burning sensations in the mouth, lips, and tongue as well as tongue swelling, runny nose, and watery eyes have been among the symptoms reported.”
The Committee wants to verify safe and effective procedures are in place to protect the environment and residents for the years to come. “We expect the EPA to prioritize protecting the residents of East Palestine and ensuring a clean environment for the future,” the members wrote. “Effective and efficient policies and procedures for hazardous material cleanup and sample collection and testing are vital to ensuring both priorities. The EPA needs to be open and transparent with the American people.”
To ensure that scientific standards continue to be met, the Committee requests the EPA respond to the proposed questions in the letter to further understand the agency’s processes.