FIRST ON FOX: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is planning out congressional oversight of the massive train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in order to ‘fully understand the facts,’ beginning with a ‘bipartisan briefing’ Friday.
On Feb. 3, 50 cars on a Norfolk Southern Railroad train derailed, leading to a large release of toxic chemicals and endangering the surrounding community.
‘I have spoken to the transportation agencies involved, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as Norfolk Southern,’ Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
‘Railroads Subcommittee Chairman [Troy] Nehls [R-Texas] is visiting the accident site in East Palestine, and the committee is planning a bipartisan briefing for House members to provide the latest information we have,’ he continued.
‘The NTSB’s accident investigation continues, so instead of speculating about all the potential factors, I want to fully understand the facts involved. When we have the facts, Congress can consider what next steps may be necessary,’ said Graves.
A committee aide told Fox News Digital that the briefing will be held Friday and that the committee’s planned oversight includes ‘continued fact-gathering and evaluation,’ keeping members informed and using that information to determine what ‘next steps’ may be necessary.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Ohio’s state government that it was not eligible for disaster assistance to help the community recover from the toxic spill, Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine, told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
‘The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time,’ DeWine’s office said in a statement earlier in the day. ‘Governor DeWine will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided.’
Norfolk Southern has offered financial compensation to locals who were displaced and has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and state officials to conduct air safety tests. Health officials have assured the public that tests have shown the area is safe.
However, JD Vance, the freshman senator from Ohio, challenged EPA Administrator Michael Regan to drink the tap water in East Palestine.
‘If the EPA Administrator wants to stand here and tell people that the tap water is safe … they should be willing to drink it,’ he said Thursday.
Fox News’ Thomas Catennaci contributed to this report.