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HomeNewsButtigieg to visit Ohio town shattered by toxic train spill

Buttigieg to visit Ohio town shattered by toxic train spill

By Pete Muntean, MJ Lee and Maegan Vazquez | CNN

Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg will visit the scene of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday.

The secretary is under intense pressure from eastern Palestinian residents and other critics to visit the city in the aftermath of a train derailment in Norfolk Southern on Feb. 3 that released toxic chemicals. He told reporters earlier this week he would visit “when the time is right,” but he delayed the National Transportation Safety Board and its investigation first.

A government official told CNN the time is now right for Buttigieg to go to eastern Palestine.

“The secretary is leaving now that the EPA has said it is exiting the emergency response phase and moving into the long-term recovery phase. His visit also coincides with the NTSB’s release of its factual findings from the investigation into the cause of the derailment and will allow the Secretary to hear from USDOT investigators who were on site to investigate the derailment within hours of the derailment. support the NTSB’s investigation,” the official said. .

“The Environmental Protection Agency is leading the federal response to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and get the company to clean up its mess. That’s how it works in response to a chemical spill. The Department of Transportation will continue to do its part by helping to investigate the cause of the derailment and implementing rail safety measures, and we hope that this sudden bipartisan support for rail safety will result in meaningful changes in Congress.

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Anger has been mounting in the small town near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, both in Norfolk Southern over the derailment itself and with the government over its response. Although EPA Administrator Michael Regan has been in town several times since the derailment, requests to visit Buttigieg have been heard repeatedly in public forums.

In response to the criticism, Buttigieg told CBS News on Tuesday that he “could have spoken out sooner.”

“I was focused on making sure our people on the ground were ready, but I could have said sooner how strongly I felt about this incident and that’s a lesson I’ve learned,” Buttigieg said.

The visit comes a day after former President Donald Trump visited eastern Palestine. When asked about Trump’s visit on Monday, Buttigieg said he would “stay on the good side of the Hatch Act,” referring to a federal law that seeks to keep government functions impartial. But he seemed to disagree with what he sees as political opportunists whose past policies may have encouraged deregulation of the rail industry.

“Whether we are talking about elected officials or anyone else showing up, there is an opportunity for anyone who has a public voice on this issue to show if they are interested in helping the people of Eastern Palestine or use of the people of eastern Palestine.”, he said in response to the question about Trump launching a 2024 bid for the White House.



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