President Biden Tours Site of Toxic Train Derailment in Ohio

President Joe Biden visits Ohio site of toxic train derailment

President Joe Biden made a significant visit on Friday to the location of last year’s major train derailment in the small village of East Palestine in northeastern Ohio.

Air Force One transported Biden to Pittsburgh at 2:25 p.m. EST, from where he proceeded by ground to East Palestine, arriving at 4:30 p.m. EST.

In his initial remarks, Biden reassured residents, stating, “We’re not going home, no matter what, until this job is done.”

Once on the ground in East Palestine, Biden received an operational update on the ongoing recovery efforts. The derailment, which occurred on Feb. 3, 2023, involved a Norfolk Southern freight train, resulting in the spillage of thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals and triggering a multi-day fire. Additionally, the spill contaminated nearby drinking water sources.

Biden
Biden (Credits: Reuters)

The incident forced hundreds of residents residing in the village, which has a population of 4,700, to evacuate their homes.

The train was carrying 115,580 gallons of vinyl chloride, a hazardous gas without color.

A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the train failed to stop after an audible alarm was activated due to an overheated wheel bearing.

Biden condemned the incident, attributing it to “an act of greed that was 100% preventable,” and emphasized the responsibility of Norfolk Southern. He mentioned an executive order he signed to hold the company fully accountable and ensure a comprehensive cleanup of the spill.

Furthermore, Biden announced the allocation of six National Institute of Health grants to institutions, including Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, to study the short- and long-term impacts of the spill.

The White House had confirmed earlier in the month that Biden would also meet with residents directly affected by the disaster.

The invitation for Biden’s visit came from East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, as stated by White House Press Secretary Katherine Jean-Pierre. Conaway had previously criticized the president for not visiting the disaster site shortly after the derailment last year.

The matter had become politically charged, with former President Donald Trump visiting the site on Feb. 22, 2023, and criticizing Biden’s absence.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited a day later to assess the toxic derailment and deliver a briefing on the disaster from the NTSB.

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