WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Critics say U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's planned inaugural train trip from Philadelphia to Washington presents unacceptable public safety hazards.
Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are set to take a passenger train Jan. 17 in order to let more people participate in the historic Jan. 20 inauguration and to recreate the inaugural train journey taken in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln.
But environmental activists Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth say residents won't be adequately protected if terrorists attack chemical plants along the route, CNN reported Saturday.
The groups, in a letter to the U.S. Secret Service, said they were worried that security measures for Obama and Biden "might not extend to the larger community which may suffer serious consequences in case of even one moderately successful terrorist release of ultrahazardous chemicals." The environmentalists said they would urge Obama to abandon his rail trip plans.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he is aware of the environmental groups' concerns, but told CNN, "I suspect it's being done, frankly, largely as a public relations ploy. I don't think there's any particular threat from chemical plants along the train route."