The Lead

Biden to visit East Palestine, Ohio to mark anniversary of derailment

By: - January 31, 2024 10:24 am

Photo of the East Palestine train derailment from the U.S. EPA.

President Joe Biden will visit East Palestine, Ohio to meet with residents affected by the  derailment of a Norfolk Southern train last year. Details of the president’s visit were not yet available, just that he would visit this month. It was not clear whether Biden would visit the parts of Pennsylvania affected by the derailment as part of the trip.

In the days following the Feb. 3, 2023 derailment of 50 cars of one of its freight trains, Norfolk Southern conducted a controlled release of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, from five of the cars, rather than wait for a possible explosion.

The derailment forced the evacuation of residents within a mile of the crash site, and left those in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania with questions about their safety and lasting harm to the environment.

Biden has not visited the site since the derailment, although Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board have visited the site. Residents in East Palestine and Darlington Township, Pennsylvania, right over the border, have said they still suffer from the effects of the chemicals released, and that more needs to be done.

Norfolk Southern has estimated the cost of cleanup and related costs including penalties and lawsuits would cost the rail giant more than $800 million.

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly