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GOP rep suggests JD Vance is ‘irresponsible’ for advising East Palestine residents to drink bottled water

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Texas Republican Congressman Troy Nehls suggested Thursday that Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, was being “irresponsible” for advising residents of East Palestine, Ohio to drink bottled water amid concerns that the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals earlier this month had contaminated the town’s water supply.

While speaking with reporters in the town earlier in the day, Vance said he would personally not drink the water to err on the side of caution.

“No… I think that if I was living here, I would drink the bottled water for now. Better safe than sorry, especially since it’s being provided for free. That’s the guidance I would give. And again, residents are going to make their own decisions on this, but my honest, personal advice is: I’d be drinking the bottled water right now,” Vance said.

JD VANCE CHALLENGES BIDEN’S EPA ADMIN TO DRINK POTENTIALLY CONTAMINATED OHIO WATER IF HE CLAIMS IT’S SAFE

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) speaks during a press conference at the Capitol Triangle on July 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Contrary to Vance’s advice, the EPA has said they haven’t detected any level of concern in the air or the water. But reports from residents in the area have surfaced claiming that fish and other animals have been dying.

Fox later caught up with Nehls, who was visiting the derailment site in his role as chair of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, and asked him about concern over the water’s safety.

“The water within this municipality is safe to drink,” he declared. “They have a water treatment facility. As a matter of fact, I just went to a local restaurant here and I said, ‘put some tapwater in here,’ and I drank it. The water is safe to drink.” 

I’M A PHYSICIAN AND THE OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT HAS CREATED A SERIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, attends the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing titled Strengthening Airline Operations and Consumer Protections in Russell Building on Thursday, February 9, 2023. 

Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, attends the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing titled Strengthening Airline Operations and Consumer Protections in Russell Building on Thursday, February 9, 2023.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

However, Nehls said that residents who have private wells and aren’t on the municipal water system should be concerned, because their water was not being run through the water treatment facility in the town. He encouraged those residents to have their water tested to make sure it was safe to drink.

Fox then asked him about lawmakers who had been suggesting the water in the town might be contaminated as a result of the train derailment.

“I don’t see how that would help the situation. I almost would say that’s irresponsible. I mean, you have access to bottled water… that’s fine. But the point is, is if the water is safe through the water treatment facility, why wouldn’t you encourage your residents to use that water?” he said. 

OHIO MOM BLASTS BIDEN EPA OFFICIAL FOR DEFENDING TRAIN DERAILMENT RESPONSE: ‘WE ARE FORGOTTEN ABOUT’

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the aftermath of the Norfolk Southern train derailment on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio. About 50 cars derailed in a fiery, mangled mess on the outskirts of East Palestine on Feb. 3.  (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies via AP)

“I just don’t see the benefit of that. Our local officials, with the state, have shown that the water is safe to drink. I just drank some. I’m not concerned about it. The mayor would have had a glass with me if he was here right now. So you’ve got to be able to trust some of your local officials. The mayor, the fire chief, they’ve all said the water is safe to drink. Drink the water,” he added.

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Fox News Digital reached out to Vance’s office for comment on Nehl’s suggestion but did not receive a response.

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