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Tags: ohio | train derailment | buttigieg | explosion

Buttigieg Deflects Train Derailment Blame in Letter to Norfolk Southern

By    |   Monday, 20 February 2023 05:20 PM EST

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to Norfolk Southern on Sunday, urging the railway operator to further support the Ohio village of East Palestine, in the wake of the Feb. 3 train derailment that led to a toxic chemical spill and massive chemical explosion.

In his letter to President and CEO Alan Shaw, Buttigieg accused Norfolk Southern of prioritizing profits before safety measures, while also encouraging the company to "demonstrate unequivocal support for the people" of East Palestine.

From one excerpt, Buttigieg wrote: "The arithmetic suggests Norfolk Southern can remain extremely profitable while also complying with a higher standard of safety regulation and offering better consideration to its workers. Similar patterns appear across your entire industry."

The Buttigieg letter could also be construed as a deflection tactic, given the transportation secretary's slow response to the potentially catastrophic incident in southeast Ohio.

For example, neither Buttigieg nor President Joe Biden have yet to visit East Palestine — more than two weeks after the derailment and explosion, which might have brought long-term damage to fish and wildlife in the region, along with drinking water for area citizens.

On Saturday, Norfolk Southern's Shaw met with officials in East Palestine, amid hopes of addressing a number of concerns from village leaders and residents.

Shaw's statement: "I returned to East Palestine today to meet with local leaders, first responders, and a group of Norfolk Southern employees who live in the area. In every conversation today, I shared how deeply sorry I am this happened to their home."

For the 50-car derailment, Axios reports that at least five different types of volatile chemicals were reportedly involved in the crash; and three were either spilled during or released and burned after the wreck.

After the derailment, Norfolk Southern released and "burned vinyl chloride, a colorless but hazardous and carcinogenic gas used to produce PVC plastic and vinyl products, from five tanker cars because of an explosion risk," according to Axios.

In his letter, Buttigieg noted how the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration are still investigating various phases of the incident.

Also, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with Ohio state agencies, reportedly have not detected any levels of hazardous substances occupying the air or municipal water system near East Palestine — after the train derailment or controlled chemical explosion.

However, other officials, such as Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, have already produced on-site videos in East Palestine, expressing doubts about the ground water or drinking water being safe for fish, animals, or humans.

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to Norfolk Southern on Sunday, urging the railway operator to further support the Ohio village of East Palestine, in the wake of the Feb. 3 train derailment that led to a toxic chemical spill and massive chemical explosion.
ohio, train derailment, buttigieg, explosion
418
2023-20-20
Monday, 20 February 2023 05:20 PM
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