East Palestine, Ohio Mayor Trent Conaway told an anxious crowd on Wednesday he heard from the White House for the first time on Tuesday nearly two week after a toxic train derailment occurred in the town.
"Where is Pete Buttigieg at?" a resident asked about the Transportation secretary.
"I don't know. Your guess is as good as me," Conaway replied. "Yesterday was the first time I have heard anything from the White House."
Federal agencies have been on the ground in East Palestine since the derailment but residents say the train company and the Biden administration have been unhelpful to them as toxic chemicals were burned off into the air. Norfolk Southern Railroad, the company whose train derailed, did not send a representative to the town hall, claiming they were fearful of violence from the locals.
Residents have been said they are suffering from headaches and sore throats since the spill, with wildlife and pets in the area dying as well, according to Reuters.
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance (R) challenged the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to drink the tap water to prove it is safe to drink. Vance advised residents to continue drinking bottled water as a procaution.
"I've got to say: the Secretary of Transportation not talking about this issue...talking about how we have too many white-male construction workers instead of the fact that our trains are crashing at alarming rates. The guy needs to do his job." - Senator @JDVance1 pic.twitter.com/WzTizjk0Hh— William Martin (@wsmartin218) February 15, 2023