Biden accepts mayor’s invitation to visit East Palestine, Ohio, a year after train derailment

The mayor of East Palestine in Ohio invited President Joe Biden to visit his community, which was devastated nearly a year ago by a train derailment.

The East Palestine Mayor invited the President Joe Biden to visit the community in eastern Ohio that was devastated almost a year ago by a train derailment. Biden is eager to see how the cleanup and recovery of toxic chemicals spilled on the ground are progressing.

Trent Conaway, the conservative mayor who doesn’t support Biden, told reporters on Wednesday that he invited the Democratic President to visit his community because he believes the visit would be beneficial.

“I am as red as the rest of them.” I’m a conservative. Conaway told The Associated Press that he invited Conaway because he had to “do what was best for the country”.


Karine Jean Pierre, the White House Press Secretary, said on Wednesday that Biden will visit in February. She said that the White House, local officials and other government agencies were still negotiating the timing of Biden’s trip.

Derailments on Feb. 3, 2023 forced thousands to leave their homes in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area. Residents of the area still worry about the health effects that could be caused by the toxic chemicals spilled during the accident and the vinyl chloride released to prevent five tank cars exploding a few weeks after the crash.

Residents in East Palestine and the White House have been asking about Biden’s absence, who is running for reelection this November. Residents in East Palestine have expressed their feeling of being forgotten by the time as it passed and they watched Biden travel to other disaster scenes, including the fires on Maui Island and the hurricanes in Florida.

Joe Bethuy is a resident of East Palestine, a Republican steelworker aged 36, who was disappointed with the Biden administration’s handling the derailment, and also the delay by the president in making a visit. He added that all he needed to do was “show up for just an hour or so.”

Bethuy, along with his friend Jeremy Smith who had moved to East Palestine following the derailment spoke to a reporter from Associated Press inside Sprinklz on Top in downtown.

Smith, when asked about Biden’s trip, said: “I’m not sure what the purpose is.” It’s a little late.

After the derailment of the train, Donald Trump, the former president visited East Palestine. He criticized Biden’s federal response as “betrayal” and donated cleaning supplies along with Trump-branded water bottles. Trump is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

In a post on social media, Trump criticised Biden for planning a visit “a YEAR late, and to only develop some political credibility because EVERYTHING he has done so far has been a DISASTER.” I knew those great people. I was there at the time it mattered. His reception will not be warm.”

Biden’s administration defended their response immediately after the toxic train derailment. Local leaders and members demanded more action. The White House claimed that they had mobilized “a robust multi-agency support effort for the people of East Palestine in Ohio” and noted that officials from Environmental Protection Agency, National Transportation Safety Board, and other agencies arrived at the rural site withing hours, even though Biden did not immediately visit.

Jean-Pierre responded to a question at the end last week regarding a possible Biden visit in Ohio by saying he’d visit “whenever it is appropriate and/or helps the community to have him there.”

Jean-Pierre continued, “No matter where you are, whether it is a rural, urban, suburban, or red, blue, state, the President has always been available to help and support the community.” “So, he will certainly do it when it’s helpful.”

Biden, despite the fact that the administration has defended their response, has not declared an official federal disaster in East Palestine. This is a point of contention for many residents. A declaration of a federal disaster would allow people to apply for additional funding and assistance from the federal government.

State and federal officials claim that a federal declaration of disaster has not been made because it is designed to cover unmet needs after a catastrophe. Norfolk Southern pays the bills, and compensates residents for damage to their homes or businesses.

Biden directed federal agencies to hold Norfolk Southern responsible for the derailment, and appointed a Federal Emergency Management Agency official to oversee East Palestine’s recovery.

Norfolk Southern estimates that the company will spend more than $1 billion to remove the hazardous chemicals from the environment, assist the community and pay for lawsuits and penalties. The insurance will probably cover most of it, but that total is expected grow.

Congress has proposed reforms, but the bill requiring federal standards for trackside sensors that can detect mechanical problems and additional inspections of qualified workers as well as at least two crew members on each freight train is stuck. Railroads have opposed several provisions that they feel are not related to the crash. Many Republicans wanted to wait until the National Transportation Safety Board final report is released later this year.

In the past, Congress has taken action to improve railroad safety. “They should do it now,” Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg told reporters in a Wednesday call.