Pete Buttigieg visits East Palestine, Ohio train derailment site

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrived in East Palestine on Thursday to visit the site where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed nearly three weeks ago — after receiving mounting criticism from residents for not heading there sooner.

Buttigieg showed up just before 8 a.m. at the site of the Feb. 3 derailment, where he is expected to meet with local residents, many of whom are frustrated by the federal response to the derailment and the possibility that they’ve been exposed to toxic materials that will negatively impact their health.

His visit coincides with the National Transportation Safety Board’s plans to release the initial results of its investigation into the Norfolk Southern train’s derailment.

Buttigieg will also receive an update on the NTSB’s probe later in the afternoon.

Pete Buttigieg visits East Palestine, Ohio Thursday to view the site where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed.

“This morning I’m in East Palestine, Ohio, to see the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment, hear updates from investigators, and meet first responders. USDOT will continue its work to ensure safety and accountability,” Buttigieg said in a tweet.

Buttigieg has received backlash in recent weeks over his response to the derailment, with critics claiming the Democrat appeared to be blowing off the village’s residents when he said he would visit the accident’s site “when the time is right.”

Pete Buttigieg received harsh criticism over how long he took to visit the small Ohio community.

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Local and federal officials have tried to ensure residents that the water, soil and air are safe following the toxic train crash.

The embattled transportation secretary snapped when questioned by a reporter on Tuesday about when he would visit East Palestine, telling her he was on “personal time.”

Earlier this week, Buttigieg sent a letter to Norfolk Southern, the train company, detailing how the derailment “has upended the lives of numerous [East Palestine] residents, many of whom continue to worry about their immediate health and safety as well as the long-term effects of the dangerous materials released near their homes.”

The Biden Administration has defended its response to the derailment, saying officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies were at the site of the accident within hours.

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The Biden Administration has defended its response to the accident, despite taking three weeks to send Buttigieg to visit the site of the derailment.
Aaron Josefczyk/UPI/Shutterstock

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Buttigieg is expected to receive the NTSB report while visiting East Palestine Thursday.
Aaron Josefczyk/UPI/Shutterstock

The White House also says it has also offered federal assistance and FEMA has been coordinating with the state emergency operations center and other partners.

The NTSB’s report is expected to be released later Thursday.

With Post wires.