East Palestine’s spill is unleashing poisonous politics

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan: “I don’t feel safe” at Norfolk Southern, the site of the East Palestine plane bombing

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency went to East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday to look at the site of the accident and said that the agency will hold Norfolk Southern accountable.

The EPA has powers over the crisis, said Administrator Michael S. Regan in a Thursday morning CNN interview.

“We issued a notice of accountability to the company, and they’ve signed that, indicating that they will be responsible for the cleanup,” Regan told CNN. “But as this investigation continues, and as new facts arise, let me just say, and be very clear, I will use the full enforcement authority of this agency, and so will the federal government, to be sure that this company is held accountable.”

“I don’t feel safe, because I don’t know what the future holds for my town,” said lifelong East Palestine resident Jessica Conard during a Wednesday evening CNN town hall. Her comment encapsulated a remarkable and pervasive feeling of mistrust among residents toward assurances by state and federal officials that their air and water are safe.

State officials have repeatedly said water from the municipal system – which is pulled from five deep wells covered by solid steel casing – is safe to drink. The governor’s office said residents who get water from private wells were encouraged to get that water tested by the EPA.

The odor of a chemical lingered in some areas with some residents saying they had headaches and pains in their throat. Plus, officials estimate thousands of fish were killed by contamination washing down streams and rivers.

The State of the East Palestine Train During the First Day of the Ohio River Flood: State Representative M. A. Regan and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Hundreds of East Palestine residents attended a town hall Wednesday night to express their frustrations and mounting distrust. The train operator pulled out due to safety concerns, but agreed to attend the event.

After the train wreck, Regan visited the town and saw some of the work that needed to be done. The state has primary responsibility for the scene but the EPA is prepared to partner and provide necessary resources.

Regan said he wants the community to know that we hear them and that we will get to the bottom of it. “We are testing for all volatile organic chemicals, we’re testing for everything. We’re testing for everything that was on that train. So we feel comfortable that we are casting a net wide enough to present a picture that will protect the community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been requested by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to send experts to East Palestine to evaluate and counsel people with questions.

Emergency responders have plans in place to prevent pollutants not removed from the site from washing into local waterways during the storms, DeWine said in a statement.

The governor said a chemical plume of butyl acrylate in the Ohio River is currently located near Gallipolis, Ohio, and will be near Huntington, West Virginia, sometime tomorrow. The results of the testing show that the chemical is currently below what the CDC considers a hazardous level. Agencies will continue sampling the river water out of an abundance of caution after no vinylchloride was detected in the Ohio River.

DeWine said the Ohio Department of Agriculture continues to assure Ohioans that its food supply is safe and the risk to livestock remains low following the train derailment.

The Central Railway Company of Palestine is Not Leaving, and a Safety Concern arises about the Local Lines Traffic in the Eleventh Street

“My concern is how many of those kids are laying in their bed in East Palestine right now that are not safe,” she said. I don’t trust them.

Further spurring residents’ questions about safety were crews’ decision to conduct controlled detonations February 6 of some of the tanks that were carrying toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride that has the potential to kill at high levels and increase cancer risk.

“I need help,” Conaway told reporters Wednesday night. “I have the village on my back, and I’ll do whatever it takes … to make this right. I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere.”

Representatives of the train’s operator, Norfolk Southern, did not attend the community meeting Wednesday, citing safety concerns after it said employees were threatened, further escalating tensions.

The company said in a release that they were increasingly concerned about the physical threat to their employees and community members because of the increased likelihood of participation by outside parties.

Nate Velez, who said he lives less than half a mile from where the train derailed, told CNN on Wednesday night that the company’s absence from the meeting was “a slap in the face.”

The family is temporarily staying in rentals away from the town. He previously stated that a chemical odor hurt his eyes and throat, and gave him a headaches while he was in town.

Most people didn’t want to leave, but they had to. So, all the people who had to go home were complaining of smells, pains in their throat, headaches, sickness,” he said. “I have gone back a few times, and the smell does make you sick. It hurts your head.

Why wasn’t she out there? – Public health testing and assessment in an Ohio village deemed unsafe by a railroad accident earlier this month

They didn’t show up at the town hall meeting. The public needs to be made aware, he said. The public needs to have the most up to date information. And so it’s our job, as the federal government, to hold this company accountable, and I promise you we will.”

Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon, Cozza said the railroad company told her it was safe to return home after conducting air testing. However, she insisted the railroad company run soil and water tests, and only then did a toxicologist deem her house unsafe.

Cozza said she would have been sitting in that home if she hadn’t thrown a fit, and she was worried that not all residents were receiving the correct level of testing.

The Biden administration said it has deployed federal medical experts to help assess what dangers remain at an Ohio village where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed this month, a ramp-up of federal support at the governor’s request as anxious residents point to signs of adverse effects.

“This request for medical experts includes, but is not limited to, physicians and behavioral health specialists,” DeWine wrote in a letter to the CDC. Some community members are concerned about their health and have already seen a doctor in the area, but still need to see one more time.

The Biden administration approved the request and began deploying teams from both federal agencies in part for public health testing and assessments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.

According to Jean-Pierre, the situation is much more expansive than what FEMA can offer, and that aid is in addition to that.

Some residents along the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line are growing concerned that some areas may not be safe to live in, thanks to a federal support boost.

Investigating the Cause of the Ohio-Train-Derailmenteast-Palestine-Friday Associated with a 100-Car Freight Train

An evacuation order that was in place for areas near the crash site was lifted February 8 after officials said air and water sample results led them to deem the area safe, officials said.

On Thursday, the head of the federal Environmental Agency Administration visited East Palestine and made it a point to assure residents that the agency has their backs.

The train operator, Norfolk Southern, signed a notice of accountability acknowledging their responsibility for cleaning up the mess, according to Regan.

A train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed in Michigan on Thursday, but officials said there was no evidence that the area was exposed to hazardous materials.

Around 30 rail cars had derailed, and first responders arrived at the crash location around 9:00 a.m. According to Van Buren Township Public Safety one of the overturned rail cars had a sack of food in it.

Federal transportation investigators are working vigorously to determine what caused the 100-car freight train to crash in Ohio, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday in a thread of tweets.

The board chairwoman wrote that she would continue to share all information publicly as soon as possible following the analysis. Once decontaminated, the tank cars will be thoroughly examined by the investigators. As always, we’ll issue urgent safety recommendations as needed.”

At around 8:12 p.m. on February 3, sparks from an apparent wheel bearing overheating were visible as the train passed through Salem, Ohio, two surveillance videos obtained by CNN show. Bright light and sparks are seen emanating from one of the rail cars.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/17/us/ohio-train-derailment-east-palestine-friday/index.html

AmeriCore: East Palestine Unravelling the Cause of the February 6 Rail-to-Aircraft Collisions with the Norfolk Southern Railroad

Homendy urged the public to refrain from speculating about the cause of the crash as their agency investigated crashes from aviation to railways.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has said that the train was carrying a range of toxic materials.

The February 6 controlled detonations could only be done manually, and East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said the only other option was to take the lives of residents.

There were harmful chemicals in the air. We only had one option, and I am sorry but that is it. If we didn’t do that, then they were going to blow up, and we were going to have shrapnel all across this town.”

Jami Cozza, who attends East Palestine and was vocal about issues her family have been facing since the train derailed, will not return home until it is safe. She told CNN that the train company paid for her to stay at a hotel because of toxicity in her home.

The company initially said it would make $1,000 payments to residents who lived within a mile of the spill evacuation zone. But the company has since decided to pay each resident in the entire 44413 ZIP code that money, a spokesman for the company told CNN.

Norfolk Southern gave more than 1.5 million dollars of direct financial assistance to over 1,000 families and businesses as of Tuesday evening, the company stated in a news release.

The Washington Duel Between Railway Companies and Railroads: Donald Trump & President Joe Biden Visited East Palestine, Ohio, 19 Days After the Derailment

Donald Trump criticized President joe Biden’s administration for their handling of a railway disaster in East Palestine, Ohio on Wednesday, 19 days after it happened.

His trip to one of the most conservative regions of the deep-red state came with many of the hallmarks of a presidential visit, as Trump sought to contrast himself with Biden – who on Monday made a historic war zone trip to Ukraine’s capital.

“You are not forgotten,” Trump said as he stood alongside a small group of local officials, including Republican Sen. J.D. Vance, and first responders after a briefing at a fire station.

The former president’s Ohio trip came as the 2024 GOP presidential race begins to take shape, with intra-party rivals lining up to take on Trump. Other Republicans have also criticized Biden’s response to the derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

The federal response to the town of Ohio has been lambasted by Republicans and Democrats alike, with Trump saying that the announcement of his visitopened up the dam.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement last week that it was deploying teams to the area should have come “two weeks earlier, or at least a week earlier.”

As he adopted the trappings of a president post-disaster, Trump bought burgers for firefighters in a local McDonald’s and pledged bottled water from his hotels. During his presidency, he boasted that he had set up the Federal Emergency Management Agency in East Palestine. He didn’t mention his own criticized disaster mismanagement, however, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 or during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ohio disaster is also allowing the public a glimpse into the rarely seen Washington duel between regulators and freight firms, which has huge implications for keeping Americans safe as vast trains – some as long as 150 cars, some carrying poisonous chemicals – rumble through towns and cities. Trump might be posing as a savior now, but he presided over a slashing of environmental and safety regulations in office. Huge transportation firms, meanwhile, pay lobbyists millions of dollars to loosen safety rules and staffing levels as they seek to maximize profits, even while rewarding shareholders and scrimping on safety.

A lot of people who seem to find political opportunities there are people who have fought safety regulations on railroads and hazmat at least once in their life, said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “If people are going to find religion about rail regulation, sometimes for the first time, I welcome that.”

The train that fell in East Palestine did not meet the criteria set by the Obama administration’s regulation, according to experts.

Republican’s ignored the argument, and bashed the federal government’s response because its residents in East Palestine are GOP voters.

“That was the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now he doesn’t care about us,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, a Republican, said of Biden’s trip to Ukraine earlier this week on Fox News. I found out this morning that he was giving millions of dollars to people in the Ukraine instead of giving them to us, and I am angry.

“Since Trump announced the trip, the EPA administrator changed his schedule and went [to East Palestine], all the sudden FEMA changes course and provides federal help – enough things have happened that we’ve already accomplished a lot of what we had hoped before even being on the ground,” one Trump adviser told CNN.

The epicenter of an environmental crisis, which came to the attention of the state on February 3, is now being used by GOP White House hopefuls like Donald Trump.

Whenever disaster strikes in divided America, toxic politics isn’t far behind, and derailments – like hurricanes, industrial accidents and transportation meltdowns – come with a political scorecard that adversaries leverage to try to damage those in power.

Republicans sense vulnerability. Buttigieg needs to be fired because he is an incompetent who is focused solely on his political future.

Still, perhaps the consequences of the derailment could unlock unusual coalitions in Washington. The conservatives and the democrats want reforms, for instance. As time goes on, expectations of bipartisan action following a catastrophe often diminish.

Given the political hypocrisy on show, the sometimes slow-moving machinery of a government disaster response, and the complex layers of federal, state and local responsibility, it’s no wonder residents question whether they are being heard.

Their concerns are only compounded by the fact that smoke from a controlled burn of wagons containing chemicals was seen over their homes, and was ordered by officials to avoid an even worse disaster.

A Trump Visit to Columbiana, Ohio, and His Oasis of Transportation Mismanagement and the Case of the Ohio Train Derailment

The response has gotten more aggressive. The government is now forced to pay Norfolk Southern for the clean up of the rail yard.

Many townsfolk distrust officials who tell them they are not in danger and contrast their sense of smell with what they are being told.

The visit of Trump on Wednesday brought some comfort to people in a region that voted overwhelmingly for him, but it was still a political play.

When the politicians get here, Trump hopes they will have some money left over to spend in the US. He won with the largest percentage of the vote of any president in Columbiana County.

“We stayed with you, we pray for you and we will stay with you,” Trump said, despite having no capacity to direct the government response. His attack on Biden underscored his emphasis on America First.

In response, Biden tweeted about the disaster while in Europe, blaming his predecessor’s administration for making it harder to implement rail safety measures and telling residents, “We’ve got your back.”

Given his political profile, Buttigieg is one of the most famous Transportation secretaries in modern history. During the travel chaos that took place last year after Southwest had a scheduling nightmare, he was put into the spotlight.

Republicans blame the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor for every transportation mess. He positioned himself as the champion of the victims. In the case of the train wreck in Ohio he wrote to Alan Shaw, the head of Norfolk Southern, saying that it had ruined the lives of many residents.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/23/politics/partisan-politics-east-palestine-ohio-derailment-analysis/index.html

What Will Biden Do When He’s Back in the US? A Memorandum on East Palestine and the Failure of the NTSB

The people of East Palestine can be forgotten even if they are not considered the cost of doing business, and that’s what Buttigieg wrote in the letter.

Buttigieg said that he could have spoken sooner about how he felt about the incident as a result of the lesson he has learned from it.

Buttigieg said he had been “respecting the role that the independent NTSB plays and staying out of their way” but vowed to be “focused on action, not on politics, not on show” when he visits East Palestine.

It is more than likely that Biden will make his own visit to show he is up to the job after returning to the US. Such trips are often about perception. It’s important for the government to have a commander in chief, because they give it strength and assure those hit by disasters that they aren’t forgotten.

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