Local, State Leaders Blast White House’s Train Crash Response
Although critics nationwide have denounced the Biden administration’s muted reaction to a train derailment in Ohio that released toxic chemicals into the environment, those closest to the disaster are especially incensed.
A town hall event this week attracted thousands of locals who had tough questions for the federal government — particularly regarding Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s delayed response.
Of course, Buttigieg was not present at Wednesday’s meeting in East Palestine, so it fell on local leaders to field the questions.
When asked where the transportation secretary was, Mayor Trent Conaway replied: “I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.”
The mayor added that he had not heard anything from the White House at all until Tuesday, which was nearly two weeks after the Norfolk Southern train derailed. The rail company also came under attack for skipping the town hall meeting.
Instead of showing up to address the situation and answer questions, Norfolk Southern blamed locals for its decision not to send representatives to the event.
“Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties,” the company stated.
GOP Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency informed him that the community did not qualify for disaster relief, though the Department of Health and Services has promised to provide some assistance for the healthcare costs associated with the environmental disaster.
FEMA spokesperson Jeremy Edwards claimed that the agency “is in constant contact with the emergency operations center in East Palestine and with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency” while coordinating with other federal entities “to test water and air quality, and to conduct public health assessments.”
U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) shared a video from a creek in the area to demonstrate the pollution that has been left behind as a result of the derailment.
Officials have confirmed that various species of animals have been dying in large numbers since the crash and multiple social media users have chronicled illnesses and deaths of pets that they believe were related to the toxic spill.
Vinyl chloride, one of the chemicals reportedly released into the environment, has been linked to a particularly deadly form of liver cancer in humans.