On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump will travel to East Palestine, Ohio, the location of a hazardous train wreck, where locals and leaders have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the federal government’s reaction to their safety concerns.
The trip occurs as Trump, and other Republicans have stepped up their criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the derailment on February 3 that resulted in evacuations and concerns about the community’s air and water being contaminated after a controlled burning of the toxic chemicals aboard the rail cars.
While the president has yet to visit East Palestine, Biden’s choice to make a surprise trip to Ukraine this week has been used by Trump.
On Wednesday, Biden returned from Poland after commemorating the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
During a President’s Day appearance in Florida on Monday, Trump said, “You have people in Ohio who desperately need help.” “They are wonderful folks that were left behind. But now, I believe they won’t be forgotten anymore,” he continued in an interview with Real America’s Voice that same day.
The trip gives Trump, who is running for president in 2024, a chance to resume his duties as president when he frequently assessed catastrophe damage.
Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, and other state and municipal officials were anticipated to attend.
Trump had planned to give away cleaning products and water bottles.
The toxic odor surrounding the village for almost three weeks has mostly subsided. Some people living close to the rails claim their homes still smell.
Excavators cleaned up toxic soil and burned rail car pieces piled next to the rails before Trump arrived. To hold the polluted water until it can be transported to a hazardous waste location, it is being transported in trucks to an improvised “tank farm.”
The village of slightly under 5,000 people is located in Columbiana County, which has recently become more Republican, close to the Pennsylvania state boundary.
In the 2020 election, Trump received close to 72% of the vote, and indications of his popularity are still evident.
Banners and flags around the community supported Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024; a photo of Trump leaning against a barricade at the town’s car dealership read, “A Hero Will Rise.”
The Biden White House defended its handling of the disaster, claiming that representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other organizations arrived at the remote location within hours of the incident.
According to the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reportedly been working with the state emergency operations center and other partners and has also given federal aid.
Last week, EPA Administrator Michael Regan traveled to the area to convince those wary that the water was safe to drink and the air was clean.
Regan replied, “I’m asking they trust the government. “I am aware that is challenging. Investigators are “testing for everything on that train,” he said. “We know there’s a lack of trust.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who had also faced criticism for not traveling earlier, announced that he would be in Ohio on Thursday just before Trump arrived.
Buttigieg has stated that the government will attempt to reinstate a rule that the Trump administration dropped and that would have required upgraded, electronically controlled brakes on specific trains that are labeled as “high-hazardous flammable trains.” These trains are those that are filled with flammable liquids.
Since the incident, residents have reported headaches, itchy eyes, and other illnesses. Many dead fish have been discovered, and locals have reported finding sick or dying pets and wildlife. Homeowners have asked Norfolk Southern, the railroad operator, for more transparency since they feel that the information concerning the disaster’s long-term impacts is ambiguous and insufficient.
Vinyl chloride, a substance used to produce hard plastics, was the gas that leaked and burnt after the train derailed and is linked to a higher risk of several malignancies.
According to environmental regulators, they kept an eye out for toxins in the air throughout the controlled burn, and subsequent air testing, which included testing inside roughly 400 homes, hasn’t found any harmful levels in the region since residents were allowed to return.
President Trump is with the people in East Palestine, Ohio. pic.twitter.com/x8SHGkGgaA
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 22, 2023