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 February 12, 2024

Biden to visit East Palestine one year after toxic train derailment

President Joe Biden is set to visit East Palestine, Ohio, on Friday, February 16, marking the anniversary of a significant train derailment, as announced by the White House.

The visit had been previously hinted at towards the end of January, but the specific date had not been disclosed until now.

The statement

According to a statement released by the White House on Saturday, Biden's visit aims to address the ongoing efforts to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the derailment and to provide support to the affected community.

The President will engage with state and local officials to discuss these efforts and underscore his commitment to assisting East Palestine as it continues to recover from the incident.

The derailment, which occurred on February 3, 2023, resulted in the burning of thirty-eight rail cars, some of which contained hazardous materials. This led to evacuations and raised health concerns among local residents.

Too little, too late

Despite the passage of time since the incident, Biden had not yet visited East Palestine, prompting criticism, particularly in light of former President Donald Trump's visit shortly after the derailment.

In response, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was dispatched to the area on February 23, 2023, representing the administration.

Mayor Trent Conaway of East Palestine expressed anticipation for Biden's visit, highlighting the community's eagerness to address lingering health concerns and to spur economic revitalization. He noted the progress made in cleanup efforts and underscored the town's transition towards focusing on economic development initiatives.

Other concerns

The announcement of Biden's visit coincides with ongoing investigations into the root cause of the derailment. Federal investigators announced on January 31 that the findings would be disclosed at a hearing scheduled for June, seventeen months after the incident.

The National Transportation Safety Board will convene hearings to present their findings and outline future steps in addressing rail safety concerns.

In anticipation of Biden's visit, the White House reiterated the President's commitment to supporting East Palestine. The visit is framed as part of Biden's broader efforts to engage with communities affected by significant events and disasters, emphasizing his administration's commitment to providing assistance and resources to aid in recovery and rebuilding efforts.

The upcoming visit also underscores the administration's focus on addressing infrastructure and transportation issues, particularly in light of the recent derailment. By visiting East Palestine and engaging directly with local officials and residents, Biden aims to demonstrate solidarity and empathy while also highlighting the importance of investing in infrastructure resilience and safety measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Overall, Biden's visit to East Palestine represents a proactive response to a significant community event, signaling his administration's commitment to supporting affected communities and addressing transportation safety concerns.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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