April 16, 2024

Ohio residents vent anger at Buttigieg, describe tense meeting with officials: ‘There was fear in their eyes’

East Palestine, Ohio, residents voiced outrage at a town hall meeting and in interviews on Fox News over the Biden administration’s poor response to the February 3 train derailment that resulted in a toxic chemical spill.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson provided details on the contentious East Palestine town hall meeting, during which one resident shouted, “Where is Pete Buttigieg?”Β 

“As far as the secretary of transportation, I certainly would like to see more from him. We need help, whether that be FEMA, whatever the case may be. This town has a very low median income and they need help. We all need help,” resident Tangie Mohrbacher told “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

Host Brian Kilmeade said Buttigieg needs to travel to the area and “do his job.”Β 

“You don’t have to be an expert, but you have to be around the experts and execute some type of plan. Not showing up and promising equity for construction jobs that haven’t started yet is not a plan,” he said.

The derailed Norfolk Southern train with 50 rail cars, 10 of which were carrying vinyl chloride, caused hazardous chemicals to spill onto the ground and sent a plume of smoke into the air. Residents were evacuated before officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals to avoid the risk of an explosion, but have since been allowed back.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office issued a statement saying that in-home air monitoring shows no sign of safety issues in areas impacted by the spill.Β 

Residents, however, remain severely concerned and say they still feel sick from the toxic chemicals that were released.Β 

“I try not to go outside because every time I go outside my throat gets scratchy,” one resident reported. Others say they’re experiencing headaches, sore throats, swollen eyes, and have seen their children develop rashes.

Tomlinson reported that officials from the Norfolk Southern Railway declined to attend Wednesday’s town hall meeting, citing safety concerns.Β 

Jenna Giannios, who attended the town hall and lives near the derailment site, spoke out about the situation on “Fox & Friends First.” She criticized Norfolk Southern Railway for failing to send a representative to the meeting.Β 

“I don’t think a lot of people got the answers that they were looking for,” Giannios said. “It really starts with that railroad company taking ownership and dictating in a really positive way how they could impact this community versus where it looks like they’re leaving them now. They’re nowhere to be found.”


Biden’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan also missed the town hall, but he’s expected to survey the damage and speak to locals Thursday afternoon.Β 

And though water tests have come back negative, meaning it’s safe to drink, Gov. DeWine encouraged residents to continue drinking only bottled water.

“I feel like they haven’t been truthful with us,” another resident said. “I just worry about especially the kids, the young mothers, the pregnant mothers.”

East Palestine Mayor Trent R. Conaway told town hall attendees the White House first reached out about the situation Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the derailment.Β 

“I’m not ready for this. I wasn’t built for this,” Conaway told reporters Wednesday night after the town hall. “I have the village on my back, and I’ll do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to make this right.”

Conaway said he’s done “playing games” and hearing blame thrown around.Β 

“They screwed up our town, they’re going to fix it,” he said.

On “The Faulkner Focus,” a Pennsylvania resident who lives near the derailment site just across the state line described officials at the town hall meeting as “scared.”

“To look at the surrounding personnel, protection agencies and whatnot, you could tell there was fear in their eyes as well, just being at that meeting. When you have community members looking for information and the people you’re looking to are scared to provide you with that information, it’s rather disturbing,” said father of four Brandon Nalesnik, accusing officials in his area of waiting too long to evacuate homes.

Fox News’ Adam Sabes contributed to this report.

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