Twenty days after the chemical spill resulting from a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has finally stopped by the affected area. The Democratic politician, much criticized for his absence since the events occurred, arrived to the area a few days after Donald Trump’s visit. The transportation secretary again insisted that Norfolk Southern, the company that owned the train, is responsible for the damage. He also reiterated the need to reform rail safety regulations.
The Secretary of Transportation arrived to East Palestine at 8 a.m. local time. Buttigieg uploaded a photo to his Twitter profile of him on site alongside investigators. In the post, the politician purposefully mentioned the name of the company responsible for the incident and stated his department's commitment to "ensuring safety and accountability.”
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. pic.twitter.com/okA6WI7uzI
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 23, 2023
Buttigieg insists on regulatory change
Buttigieg, who took eleven days to reference the crash and the consequences it is having on the people in the area, arrived to Ohio on the same day that the National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) released the preliminary report to the public. The Transportation Secretary justified his absence in East Palestine in an interview with CBS News last Tuesday:
I have followed the normal practice of transportation secretaries in the early days after a crash, allowing NTSB to lead the safety work and staying out of their way, but I am very eager to have conversations with people in East Palestine about how this is impacted them."
Buttigieg’s visit comes one day after Trump's visit to the affected area. The former president also distributed food and water to local residents, which he paid for out of his own pocket, and harshly criticized President Biden and Buttigieg’s absence.