OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
5:35 PM – Wednesday, January 31, 2024
President Joe Biden is finally set to visit the East Palestine, Ohio, area that was tragically impacted by a toxic train derailment nearly one year ago.
The White House recently announced that Biden will purportedly travel next month to East Palestine, Ohio, to mark the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic train derailment and toxic chemicals that were spilled in the region.
The visit, as announced by the White House, did not include a specific date when Biden will visit.
The tragedy in East Palestine occurred on February 3rd, 2023, in which a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed and caught fire. The fire spread over several days, releasing toxic fumes, oil, and forcing locals to flee their homes with their pets. It also prompted people in the area to worry about the long-term health and economic impacts of the derailment.
Biden is allegedly visiting East Palestine after an invitation from the mayor of East Palestine had requested him to travel to the site and “observe firsthand’ the progress being made in recovering from the toxic chemical spill and clean up.
Mayor Trent Conaway (R-Ohio), a critic of Biden, announced on Wednesday that he invited the current president to the site since he feels that the visit will better benefit the community.
“I’m as red as they come. I’m as conservative as they come. Sometimes I have to do what’s best for the people so, yes, that’s why I invited him,” Conaway stated in an interview with The Associated Press.
Additionally, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made a statement regarding Biden’s upcoming visit to the area, mentioning that he will be traveling there “in February.”
“He’s looking forward to going to the East Palestine team in February. We’re going to find the day that works best for the folks on the ground,” Jean-Pierre explained to reporters during Wednesday’s meeting. “He’s always said that, when the time was right, when it was the most helpful for him to be there, he was going to be there.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s in a rural area, urban area, suburban area, red state, blue state, the president has always been there to…assist and be there for the community,” Jean-Pierre added. “So, when it is helpful, he certainly will do that.”
Biden has encountered continuous criticism from Republicans for not traveling to East Palestine sooner.
As time passed and people witnessed Biden travel to the scenes of other tragedies, many locals of East Palestine also asserted that they had “felt forgotten,” regarding the train derailment tragedy.
Joe Bethuy, an East Palestine resident and steelworker, expressed extreme disappointment in the way that the Biden administration handled the derailment and the president’s postponed visit. Bethuy expressed to Associated Press reporters that Biden only needed to “show up just for an hour or something.”
“I don’t know what the point is really,” Smith said regarding Biden’s visit. “It’s kind of a year late.”
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that “attempts to halt the train by crew members following their discovery of an overheated wheel bearing” led to the derailment.
According to Norfolk Southern, cleanup and recovery expenses along the Ohio–Pennsylvania border are expected to exceed $1.1 billion.
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