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State gives more loans to East Palestine businesses

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(The Center Square) – State money continues to flow into East Palestine, Ohio, to support businesses struggling from a train derailment and toxic chemical release more than 15 months ago.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced three more businesses will receive loans through the East Palestine Emergency Support Program, bringing the total to 23 sharing more than $3.8 million.

“My administration is dedicated to supporting the people and businesses of East Palestine for as long as they need us, through these grants and otherwise,” DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Development launched the East Palestine Emergency Support Program in August 2023 and issued the first loans in December. The program currently has $5 million available.

“We are committed to supporting the people and businesses of East Palestine throughout the community’s recovery,” Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik said. “Through the East Palestine Emergency Support Program, we are ensuring these businesses will thrive and continue to serve their neighbors.”

Doss Petroleum, a gas station and convenience store, will receive a $69,500 loan, while local hardware store Brushville Supply will receive $187,500. Ianazone’s Pizza will also receive a $34,306 loan.

In early April, Norfolk Southern announced a $600 million settlement in a class action lawsuit resulting from the derailment and controlled chemical explosion that followed.

In March, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board told Senators the chemical explosion was unnecessary.

Under questioning from U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy also said DeWine and incident commanders on the scene were not given complete information before executing the explosion near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border that they said was needed to prevent an uncontrolled explosion.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the Transportation Board recently announced it will hold back-to-back hearings on June 22-23 at East Palestine High School.

The hearings will last from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., respectively, and cover emergency responder preparedness, circumstances surrounding the burning of toxic chemicals, mechanical failures and damage caused by the derailment.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the NTSB blamed the February 2023 derailment on an overheated wheel bearing. No injuries were reported.

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