(IntegrityPress.org) – US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine, Ohio, to meet with community members affected by the recent train derailment. The visit comes 20 days after the incident, which caused fears of spreading toxins, mostly due to a chemical released intended to lessen the possibility of an explosion happening at the site of the crash. The derailment was one of three major incidents in recent weeks, with the others occurring in Michigan and Nebraska. Buttigieg received an update on the ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and met with community members affected by the incident.
The slow response of Buttigieg and President Biden’s administration to the incidents have been heavily criticized, leading to accusations of mishandling the situation. However, an administration official has defended their actions and stated that the Environmental Protection Agency is leading the federal response to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and make the company clean up the mess. The Department of Transportation is also working to investigate the cause of the derailment and implement rail safety measures.
Buttigieg has tried to pin the disaster on the previous government of former President Trump, saying that he was “limited” by it. He noted the Department of Transportation’s decision in 2018 to drop a rule proposal that would have mandated the use of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes on trains hauling hazardous chemicals. The technology’s benefits were deemed inconclusive at the time, and the Department of Transportation cited a law passed by Congress in 2015 as the reason for withdrawing the proposal.
Despite the criticism and blame-shifting, Buttigieg has emphasized the importance of rail safety and expressed hope that the recent incidents will result in meaningful changes in Congress. The visit to Ohio is part of the administration’s efforts to address the situation and ensure that necessary steps are taken to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
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