Transportation Sec. Buttigieg says he’ll visit East Palestine ‘when the time is right,’ as EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up derailment site and pay all costs.
Biden’s vanity trip over to Ukraine has apparently not only destabilized the region further but has also angered many Americans.
Trent Conaway, mayor of East Palestine, Ohio, is particularly furious at Biden for visiting Kyiv, Ukraine.
Conaway was asked Monday during a TV appearance on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime whether he was surprised to hear that the president was in Kyiv on Monday morning.
“Absolutely. That was the biggest slap in the face,” Conaway said. “That tells you right now he doesn’t care about us.”
…Conaway on Monday expressed his dissatisfaction with the Biden administration’s response to the East Palestine train derailment, as he criticized the U.S. for giving funds to Ukraine to bolster its war against Russia.
“He can send every agency he wants to, but I found out this morning that he was in Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there and not to us … on Presidents Day in our country, so I’m furious,” he said.
The administration’s Secretary of Transportation will visit East Palestine “when the time is right.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters on Monday that he plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio, “when the time is right” and announced new efforts by his agency to improve rail safety in the wake of a train derailment that has left local residents questioning the safety of their soil, air and water.
“I am very interested in getting to know the residents of East Palestine, hearing from them about how they’ve been impacted and communicating with them about the steps that we’re taking,” Buttigieg said on a Monday call, adding that he had referred to past common practices of transportation secretaries by deferring first to the National Safety Transportation Board after a major disaster like the derailment. “But yes, when the time is right, I do plan to visit East Palestine. I don’t have a date for you right now.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a sweeping enforcement action against Norfolk Southern, ordering the rail company to conduct and pay for cleanup actions associated with the derailment and subsequent controlled burn and release of chemical contaminants that have spread through the region.
“The Norfolk Southern train derailment has upended the lives of East Palestine families, and EPA’s order will ensure the company is held accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of this community,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in remarks prepared for a news conference in East Palestine. “Let me be clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess they created and for the trauma they’ve inflicted on this community.”
If the company fails to complete any of the actions ordered by the EPA, the agency will “immediately” conduct the necessary work and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost. The order will require the company to identify and clean contaminated soil and water; pay any EPA costs, including reimbursing the agency for cleaning services that it will offer to residents and businesses; and participate in public meetings at EPA’s request and post information on-line.
At the state level, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro has just announced that his office has made a criminal referral in response to the recent train derailment at the town that borders his state.
Shapiro shared the information at a news conference in East Palestine with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and other officials. A reporter had asked what actions the governors might take, such as penalizing Norfolk Southern, the rail company involved in the Feb. 3 derailment.
“We’ve made a criminal referral to the acting attorney general in Pennsylvania to review, and acting Attorney General [Michelle] Henry can speak to that beyond my comments,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro, a Democrat, was the state’s attorney general before he was elected governor last year. He provided no further details about the referral.
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