CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is in talks about hearings over the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment and the chemicals that were spilled as a result of it.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) addressed the derailment during a press conference on Thursday. She said her office has received questions from West Virginians about whether or not their water and air are clean.

“I think the situation and the cleanup of this is going to be something that is going to be going on for years,” Capito said. “I don’t think it goes away this week or next week if they pull all the debris out, I think there’s gonna be a question as we move forward about the groundwater.”

She said that as of right now, testing has shown that if there are any chemicals in East Palestine’s groundwater, they are below detectable levels, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way, and that doesn’t mean that “everything has been comprehensively tested either.”

Capito said the issue does affect West Virginia, particularly when it comes to drinking water. The state did take precautions to protect its water supply after butyl acrylate, a toxic chemical, was detected in the Ohio River.

Capito said that she is in talks with Sen. Tom Carper (D, DE), who is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, about how to “formulate” a hearing to give concerned citizens an opportunity to testify—as well as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

“I’ve read the stories of some physical—big physical issues that people have had,” Capito said. “There’s also been a big fish kill. That’s confirmed.”

She said the hearings could address rail safety issues as well.

“Norfolk Southern will pay for this, both monetarily, and probablly in other ways in turn, and I think that is a given. And if they don’t, I think that the powers that be—Congress and otherwise—will come in with a heavy hand there.”

Capito was not able to provide a specific timeline for the hearings as of Thursday, but did say the committe should get the hearings underway within a month, though did note that she did not want the hearings to interefere with cleanup efforts either.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D, WV) sent the statement below on Thursday:

It has been 13 days since a Norfolk Southern train derailed causing a dangerous chemical fire and forcing residents to evacuate. I greatly appreciate the swift response of first responders and local and state officials, and am relieved there are no current reports that indicate West Virginians should be concerned for their air or water quality. However, I understand the concerns raised by West Virginians and Ohioans in close proximity to the site. People deserve answers.

I have been in touch with officials at Norfolk Southern who have committed to me that they will do everything possible to clean up the site, restore the community and support the residents impacted.

While I am glad EPA Administrator Regan will visit the site today, it is unacceptable that it took nearly two weeks for a senior Administration official to show up. I urge President Biden, Administrator Regan, and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to provide a complete picture of the damage and a comprehensive plan to ensure the community is supported in the weeks, months and years to come, and this sort of accident never happens again. The damage done to East Palestine and the surrounding region is awful and it’s past time for those responsible to step up to the plate.

I encourage any West Virginian or Ohioan who is impacted by this situation to reach out to my office for assistance and support.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D, WV)

Here are the senators’ contact information:

Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito

Washington, D.C.

172 Russell Senate Office
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6472


48 Donley Street
Suite 504
Morgantown, WV 26501
Phone: 304-292-2310

Sen. Joe Manchin

Washington D.C.

306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3954


230 Adams Street
Fairmont, WV 26554
Phone: 304-368-0567