Home U.S. News Biden to Visit the Site of Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

Biden to Visit the Site of Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

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Biden to Visit the Site of Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

President Biden will visit East Palestine, Ohio, in February to mark the first anniversary of the toxic derailment that plunged the small community into a health and environmental crisis, the White House announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Biden has faced criticism from political leaders and residents for delaying a visit, which he had promised to make one month after the Feb. 3, 2023, derailment. The White House did not specify when in February Mr. Biden would visit.

The Biden administration has sent a steady stream of resources to East Palestine and oversees the cleanup efforts of Norfolk Southern, the rail company responsible for the derailment. The administration has maintained that the company should be held accountable for the cleanup cost and other remedies.

But political pressure has mounted as residents expressed deep fears about lingering contamination and Republicans seized on the issue. Former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Biden’s likely rival in the presidential campaign, visited East Palestine and told the crowd, “You are not forgotten.”

In January, both the mayor and residents of East Palestine sent letters to the White House asking Mr. Biden to visit and hear about their lingering concerns himself.

In a Jan. 12 letter, obtained by The New York Times, Mayor Trent Conaway wrote that the derailment “has damaged the soul of our northern Appalachian communities.”

A separate letter from residents said that as the first anniversary approached, “our community remains deeply affected.”

“While we are strong and resilient people, we also deserve to be heard,” the letter said.

“We ask you to demonstrate that the highest office in the world does not forsake hardworking Americans in the face of adversity. As the president of the people, by the people and for the people, we trust that you will act.”

The train was carrying more than 700,000 pounds of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used to produce pipes, furniture and packaging, when it skipped the tracks. Much of that freight was incinerated by emergency responders, in a so-called controlled burn to avert a wider explosion.

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