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President Joe Biden said on Friday that he won’t be taking time out to go and visit residents of East Palestine, the Ohio community devastated earlier this month by a train derailment that caused a massive toxic chemical spill.
An overheated wheel bearing on the 23rd rail car out of 149 was responsible for the catastrophic train derailment that occurred in a small Ohio community on February 3. Following the incident, local authorities took swift action to ensure public safety by evacuating all residents within a one-mile radius of the accident. In addition, they initiated a controlled burn of the vinyl chloride, which the train was carrying, to prevent a potentially massive explosion from happening, reports noted.
Five train cars released large plumes of black smoke containing vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen used to produce PVC, which could be seen throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
In response to questions from reporters about whether he intended to visit the town, Biden answered “no” while defending his administration’s handling of the situation. “We’re doing all we can,” he added.
@POTUS says he has no plans to visit Ohio right now. “We’re doing all we can,” he said. pic.twitter.com/1KjbiAJVDa
— Nandita Bose (@nanditab1) February 24, 2023
“Biden’s decision to not visit the town comes after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has faced intense criticism over his response, or lack thereof, to the incident,” the Daily Wire noted.
Earlier this week, former President Donald Trump arrived to provide aid in the aftermath of a train derailment and personally helped with the delivery of numerous truckloads of bottled water to the area. According to John Rourke, CEO of Blue Line Moving, the company transported a total of 13 pallets of water pallets to East Palestine to assist the small town.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told Breitbart News, “President Trump is meeting with the citizens of East Palestine, and he will never forget them and what they are going through. Contrast that with Biden and the federal government, who have failed them from the beginning.”
“Cleanup crews ended up igniting five train cars to get rid of toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, which created a menacing plume of thick smoke that resembled a mushroom cloud. Images of the controlled detonation were later circulated on social media, sparking concerns around the nation. The incident resulted in about half of the town’s population being ordered to evacuate. While residents have since been told they are allowed to return to their homes, many are still concerned and want answers — but Biden and Buttigieg are nowhere to be found,” Breitbart added.
Several local residents also showed up before Trump’s official arrival and made it clear they were fed up with Biden.
Tens of thousands of pounds of goods, food, water being delivered to the people of East Palestine, Ohio right now before Trump’s visit.
Trump paid for all of it.
Number of goods delivered from the Biden Administration: 0. pic.twitter.com/QQADqZl9Uy
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) February 22, 2023
Locals have started chanting “No More Joe” as they await Trump’s arrival to East Palestine pic.twitter.com/RkhiHcfmzb
— Savanah Hernandez (@sav_says_) February 22, 2023
According to researchers from Texas A&M University and Carnegie Mellon University, despite officials’ assurances that the air and water in the town is safe, residents affected by the train derailment and subsequent chemical fallout in the town could face a range of long-term health complications due to prolonged exposure to toxic substances.
Researchers said of the roughly 50 chemicals present on the derailed train, nine have higher concentrations than usual in East Palestine. The researchers are particularly worried about above-normal levels of acrolein, a substance with a strong odor that is considered “highly toxic” when inhaled, according to a CDC report.
Other chemicals charted at abnormally high levels included benzene, naphthalene, and vinyl chloride, the Daily Wire reported. “If these levels continue, they may be of health concern,” the analysis said.
The outlet added:
The findings come after the EPA said that “test results from the village’s municipal well sampling showed no water quality concerns,” while Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced that tests conducted by the Ohio EPA revealed “no detection of contaminants in raw water from the five wells that feed into East Palestine’s municipal water system.” Governor Josh Shapiro (D-PA) likewise remarked in a recent interview that tests of municipal water supplies and wells have not shown any “concerning readings” of hazardous chemicals.
In addition to vinyl chloride, Norfolk Southern, the company involved in the derailment, notified the EPA that several other volatile chemicals, including ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and ethylhexyl acrylate, were present at the site. However, the EPA only disclosed the full list of substances to residents after they were advised that it was safe to return to their homes.