State and Federal Officials Visit East Palestine Following Train Derailment
On Thursday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a toxic train derailment earlier this month. He was accompanied by members of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who released a preliminary report on the accident the same day. The report indicates that the train's crew became aware of an overheated wheel bearing just moments before the wreck and tried to stop the train.
The NTSB preliminary report found that a wheel bearing on the train had heated up over several miles before the incident and that surveillance video captured a wheel of the train bearing “in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.” Thirty-eight cars derailed in the Feb. 3 crash, including 11 tank cars carrying chemicals including vinyl chloride.
In response to the ongoing concerns, the Ohio Department of Health opened a health clinic in East Palestine on Tuesday to give medical evaluations to residents impacted by the derailment. On Wednesday, a press release was released stating that, in addition to getting medical check-ups, locals are also able to consult a mental health professional and a toxicologist.
State and federal officials, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, visited the homes of East Palestine residents to show residents that their water is safe to drink. DeWine, Johnson, and Regan all drank the water to prove that it is safe.
The EPA has ordered Norfolk Southern to cover the full cost of cleaning up the aftermath of the train crash and threatened to step in and perform the work at triple the cost to Norfolk Southern — which made nearly $5 billion in profits from railway operations last year — if the company does not comply.
The National Transportation Safety Board has stated that the investigation is still in progress, and that the inquiry will be concentrating on the wheels, the tank car construction, the combustion of vinyl chloride and the actions taken in response to the incident. Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, commented that dealing with potential toxic exposures is not something that many physicians are familiar with.
At a CNN town hall, angry residents confronted the Norfolk Southern CEO at over the accident. The Biden Administration has defended their reaction, claiming that representatives from the EPA, NTSB, and other organizations were at the rural location shortly after the derailment occurred. At 1 p.m., NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy and Robert J. will be hosting a press conference.
0. “NTSB Preliminary Report: What happened before train derailment?” WKBN.com, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/east-palestine-train-derailment/ntsb-to-release-preliminary-report-in-east-palestine-train-derailment/
1. “Video showed wheel bearing was in “final stage of overheat failure” before Ohio train derailed, report says” CBS News, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ohio-train-derailment-ntsb-report-wheel-bearing-final-stage-overheat-failure
2. “Ohio train derailment investigation: NTSB releases preliminary report on East Palestine incident” WKYC.com, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/special-reports/train-derailment/ohio-train-derailment-investigation-ntsb-preliminary-report-east-palestine/95-d100b570-38c7-4a1c-b6ba-f3f79ba7b45d
3. “LIVE: Buttigieg speaks after NTSB releases report on derailment” WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland, 23 Feb. 2023, https://fox8.com/news/investigation-report-on-train-derailment-to-be-released/
4. “Politicians Are Drinking the Water in East Palestine to ‘Prove' It's Safe” VICE, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.vice.com/en/article/k7b47y/east-palestine-drinking-water-mike-dewine
5. “East Palestine, Ohio: Crew tried to slow train before toxic wreck – NTSB” BBC, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64749041
6. “Angry Ohio residents confront train CEO during CNN town hall on toxic wreck” CNN, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/23/us/ohio-train-derailment-east-palestine-townhall-takeaways/index.html
7. “Norfolk Southern CEO fields questions from East Palestine residents” The Columbus Dispatch, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/local/2023/02/22/norfolk-southern-ceo-alan-shaw-fields-questions-from-east-palestine-residents-in-cnn-town-hall/69933974007/
8. “Axios interview: Sen. J.D. Vance sees “our people” hurt by derailment” Axios, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/02/23/jd-vance-ohio-train-derailment-interview