Videos show Ohio politicians gingerly sipping tap water near chemical train crash, hoping to convince locals to start drinking it again

Videos show Ohio politicians gingerly sipping tap water near chemical train crash, hoping to convince locals to start drinking it again

  • Videos show several Ohio politicians gingerly sipping on tap water near a toxic train derailment.
  • People online accused them of pretending to drink the water, though the footage was not definitive.
  • A spokesman for Rep. Bill Johnson told Insider the congressman “definitely drank the water.”

Officials in Ohio were videoed sipping tap water near the site of a toxic train derailment in a bid to convince residents that the local water is safe to drink.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio, and Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, on Tuesday gathered around the sink of a house in the town of East Palestine to sample the water.

“I’ll tell you, we believe in science, so we don’t feel like we’re being your guinea pig,” Regan told Carolyn Brown, whose house they were in. Brown’s house is connected to the municipal water supply, per ABC News.

“But we don’t mind proving to you that we believe the water is safe,” Regan continued.

The officials then clinked glasses and sipped water from their cups, as shown in this video from Fox News.

It shows DeWine on the left, Regan in the middle, and Johnson on the right.

The men seem hesitant to drink at first, perhaps waiting for each other, and none drinks deeply — but the footage isn’t definitive about what happens.

A second video shows the trio visiting another house and doing the same.

“That’s pretty good water,” Regan said after drinking from a red plastic cup.

DeWine is close enough to the camera to appear to sip and swallow.

Some some people on Twitter accused the officials of pretending to drink the water. Others said that the politicians seemed nervous while drinking.

A representative for Johnson, whose congressional district covers East Palestine, told Insider in an email that the congressman “definitely drank the water” when he was being filmed.

“He has said consistently that the municipal water system in the village has been tested, re-tested, and tested again by multiple agencies, and has been found safe,” the spokesperson told Insider.

Regan and representatives for DeWine did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Town council members and first responders videoed themselves drinking too

Johnson, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, EPA Ohio Director Anne Vogel, and Keith Drabick, East Palestine’s fire chief, were also seen drinking tap water in a video posted on Friday.

Drabick in particular can be seen drinking gulps of water from a transparent cup.

“You just saw us all drink a glass of water, our municipal water system here in East Palestine is safe. If you have groundwater, if you have well water, please get it tested,” Conaway said in the video.

But Conaway warned residents to stay away from creeks and streams, acknowledging that fish had died in streams and that some water could still be polluted.

The videos were posted to Twitter two weeks after a 50-car train carrying toxic chemicals derailed near East Palestine on February 3. At least 11 of the cars were carrying hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make plastic products. 

Days after the crash, officials evacuated the area near the crash site. This was so crews could release the chemical buildup in the train cars in a controlled manner, and avoid a “catastrophic explosion” of toxic materials.

Authorities have since allowed people to return to the area. But some residents aren’t convinced that it’s safe to go home. Others reported seeing dead chickens and fish in nearby towns and waterways.

Still, officials said in a February 15 press conference that the town’s public water supply is safe to consume. The EPA, which has been screening nearby homes and monitoring the air and soil, says there is no reason for concern.

Conaway, Drabick, Husted, and representatives at the EPA did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.



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