Biden speaks with Ohio, Pennsylvania officials on East Palestine train derailment

President Joe Biden speaks at the construction site of the Hudson Tunnel Project, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

President Biden on Tuesday spoke with Ohio and Pennsylvania officials to offer his support in the aftermath of a train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio.

Biden, who traveled to Kyiv on Monday and spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Poland to mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, called several officials after delivering remarks in Warsaw. 

The president spoke with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D). Biden also spoke with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan.

“I reaffirmed my commitment to making sure they have everything they need,” Biden wrote in a social media post.

“I want affected residents to know that we’ve got your back,” Biden added.

Biden has faced sharp criticism from some Republicans for his handling of the chemical spill after a Norfolk Southern train derailed, with a handful of lawmakers specifically questioning his decision to travel to Europe this week before he made a trip to Ohio to view the damage.

“That was the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now, he doesn’t care about us,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway told Fox News. “So … he can send every agency he wants to but I found that out this morning and one of the briefings that he was in the Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us and I’m furious.”

The train derailment spilled a number of chemicals into the area, including a carcinogen called vinyl chloride that is used to make plastic. 

Officials temporarily evacuated the area, but have since said it is safe to return. Many community members, however, continue to express concerns about the air and water quality since the incident.

The EPA on Tuesday issued a legally binding order requiring Norfolk Southern to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water, reimburse the EPA for the cleaning that it is doing and attend public meetings at the agency’s request.

Former President Trump is slated to visit East Palestine on Wednesday to tour the area and meet with GOP officials there. In response, some Biden administration officials have highlighted that railway regulations were weakened during the Trump administration.

Tags Bill Johnson East Palestine Joe Biden Josh Shapiro Mike DeWine Ohio train derailment palestine Pennsylvania President Joe Biden Sherrod Brown toxic chemicals

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