UNITED STATES NEWS

Biden is going to the site of last year’s train derailment in Ohio. Republicans say he took too long

Feb 15, 2024, 10:09 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — For over a year, President Joe Biden waited for what the White House said was the right moment to visit East Palestine, Ohio, facing criticism that he was ignoring the victims of an explosive fire caused by a train derailment.

On Friday, the president goes to the village of 5,000 at the invitation of its mayor and as the Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of finishing an extensive cleanup paid for by the train company, Norfolk Southern. Republicans have blasted Biden for not visiting sooner and there are some enduring tensions in the community.

“The president has always said when the time is right and when it made sense for him to go, he would go,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “And so, that’s what he’s doing.”

Ahead of the trip, Jean-Pierre said in response to a question that Biden has “no concerns about drinking the water” in the town, where chemicals and hazardous waste spread because of the fire. She noted that EPA Administrator Michael Regan drank the water during an earlier visit.

Democrat Biden is venturing into Republican territory amid a reelection campaign. Aides say it’s a chance for Biden to hear from the community, talk about his efforts to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and push for passage of a rail safety law. A number of administration officials have visited over the past year.

“It’s been a year of challenge, but a year of solidarity,” Regan said in a statement. “I’m proud of East Palestine, a community that has embodied resilience, hope and progress.”

During Biden’s visit, there will be a separate rally for former President Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner. Trump won nearly 72% of the vote in Ohio’s Columbiana County, which includes East Palestine.

Mike Young, the rally’s coordinator, described the grass-roots event as “anti-Biden.” He said he delivered water to the community after the disaster and the president should have been an immediate presence on the ground.

“The sentiment from residents has been: Where were you a year ago?” Young said. “Too little, too late. And now Biden shows up at election time.”

The visit will be Biden’s first trip interacting with everyday voters since a special counsel’s report last week questioned the mental fortitude of the 81-year-old president. East Palestine has emerged as a test of his ability to bridge political divides and publicly show that he’s up for the burdens of the presidency.

The EPA engaged in an intense cleanup and says the community’s air, water and soil are now safe.

It removed more than 176,000 tons of hazardous waste. More than 49 million gallons of water, rainfall and snowmelt were removed or treated. The federal agency is also collecting 2,500 samples to ensure that the cleanup has succeeded.

Norfolk Southern said it has spent roughly $1.1 billion in its response to the derailment. Since the fire began on February 3, 2023, and caused hazardous chemicals to mix, the company says it has invested $103.2 million in the community, including $21 million distributed to residents.

Still, there are some in the community who say more work must be done.

On Thursday, community activists sent Biden a letter that asked him to issue a major disaster declaration for the community, as well as provide long-term health care for residents, increased environmental testing and relocation funding for those who wish to leave.

Krissy Hylton, 49, is among those worried about returning to their homes.

Hylton, an assistant manager at a convenience store, said she would tell Biden about her health concerns. The EPA testing says her home should be safe, but she said she has independent tests that point to a risk of chemical exposure. She worries about where she will live once the lease on a rental home paid for by Norfolk Southern ends in May.

“My home is not safe to go back to,” she said between sobs. “This has been devastating. No matter what day it says on the calendar, it’s still February 3, 2023, to me. Because I have no answers. I have more questions.”

United States News

Associated Press

Jurors in Trump’s hush money trial zero in on testimony of key witnesses as deliberations resume

NEW YORK (AP) — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial is to resume deliberations Thursday after asking to rehear potentially crucial testimony about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case. The 12-person jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Besides asking to […]

3 hours ago

Alito...

Associated Press

Alito rejects calls to quit Supreme Court cases on Trump and Jan. 6 because of flag controversies

Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants, saying his wife hoisted the two controversial flags that flew above their homes.

4 hours ago

Nissan...

Associated Press

Nissan warns owners of older vehicles about risk of exploding air bag inflators

Nissan is urging the owners of about 84,000 older vehicles to stop driving them because their Takata air bag inflators have an increased risk of exploding in a crash and hurling dangerous metal fragments.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police chief dismissed from top job amid discrimination, harassment lawsuits

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s embattled police chief has been dismissed, Mayor Bruce Harrel said Wednesday. Harrell said at a news conference that he met with Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Tuesday and they agreed Diaz should step down. He will work on special assignments for the mayor with the police department, Harrell said. Diaz’s departure […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Disneyland performers’ vote to unionize is certified by federal labor officials

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Character and parade performers at Disneyland in California are officially unionized. Federal labor officials said Wednesday that they’ve certified the results of a three-day election that took place earlier this month in Anaheim. Actors’ Equity Association will represent roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help bring Disney’s popular characters to life […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan willing to spend millions to restore Flint properties ripped up by pipe replacement

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan said it’s willing to step in and oversee property repairs at 1,900 homes in Flint where water pipes have been inspected or replaced but the grounds remain a mess. The city in March was found in civil contempt by a judge after blowing past deadlines to get the […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Biden is going to the site of last year’s train derailment in Ohio. Republicans say he took too long