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President Joe Biden to visit East Palestine to mark train derailment anniversary

Crews monitor creek water in the village of East Palestine, Ohio on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. President Joe Biden will visit the site of the train derailment that spilled hazardous chemicals next month. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
1 of 2 | Crews monitor creek water in the village of East Palestine, Ohio on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. President Joe Biden will visit the site of the train derailment that spilled hazardous chemicals next month. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden intends to visit East Palestine, Ohio in February to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of a toxic Norfolk Southern train derailment that spilled hazardous chemicals igniting a days-long fire, a White House official said.

Biden will make the trip on a not yet specified date surrounding the Feb. 3 anniversary of the derailment, a White House official said, according to reports by Politico, The Hill and CNN.

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Citing a White House official's statement, CNN said Biden would "meet with residents impacted by the Norfolk Southern train derailment and assess the progress that his Administration has helped deliver in coordination with state and local leaders to protect the community and hold Norfolk Southern accountable."

The train disaster forced residents to evacuate amid a fire that lasted for days pouring hazardous toxins into the air in addition to the spill that contaminated the ground.

EPA officials responded within hours of the derailment and EPA Administrator Michael Regan made multiple trips to the affected area.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to the small Ohio town on Feb. 23, 2023 as an NTSB report was released on the disaster that revealed the crew tried to stop the freight train after an audible alarm warned them of an overheated wheel bearing.

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After the initial government response, Biden issued an executive order to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and to help mobilize clean-up over time.

In the days after the toxic chemical spill hundreds East Palestine residents expressed anger at a meeting Norfolk Southern failed to attend. They booed the railroad's failure to show up as they anxiously questioned what the health impacts of the spill would be.

In September Biden ordered FEMA to appoint a Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator to "oversee long-term recovery efforts in the affected communities and conduct a comprehensive assessment of unmet needs of the affected communities in recovering from the derailment beyond the cleanup work directed by EPA."

According to the White House, at least 11 rail cars in the derailment carried toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethyl-hexyl acrylate, butyl acrylates, benzene residue, and isobutylene.

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