U.S. Transportation Secretary visits East Palestine Thursday

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:51 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 1:01 PM EST
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COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine Thursday and met with investigators regarding the toxic damage caused by the Feb. 3 Norfolk-Southern train derailment and controlled explosion of five railroad cars carrying the chemical vinyl chloride.

Secretary Buttigieg was joined by Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown.

Buttigieg said communities need to be better informed when hazardous materials are coming through their town and he is working on improving this. He also believes dangerous chemicals should be in stronger tank cars.

Buttigieg is also calling on Congress to pass new legislation.

He is also making sure the inspections on train routes nationwide are stepped up immediately. Buttigieg said this will be able to happen without any action from Congress.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will also issued their preliminary report of the crash Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump visited Little Beaver Creek and spoke at the East Palestine Fire Department.

On Tuesday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine returned to the area.

Regan ordered Norfolk-Southern to pay for all the clean-up costs.

EPA officials said they have screened more than 550 homes for air quality concerns and remain on the ground continuously monitoring air quality.

DeWine said testing continues to show the water quality is also safe.

Hundreds of residents in East Palestine and 20 homes in Pennsylvania were evacuated from Feb. 5 until the evening of Feb. 8 and remain very concerned over the air and water quality.

Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Health opened up a health clinic in East Palestine. Visitors to the clinic will be seen by a physician.

“We have been working to bring additional medical resources to the community as quickly as possible,” said Ohio Department of Health Director (ODH) Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA. “I am pleased we now can offer people a more complete medical evaluation.”

The clinic is located at the First Church of Christ, 20 W. Martin St. in East Palestine. The numbers to make appointments are 234-564-7755 or 234-564-7888.