The decade's most triggering comedy
President Joe Biden told reporters Friday that he has no plans to visit East Palestine after the community experienced a serious toxic train wreck earlier this month.
The catastrophic February 3 train derailment in the small Ohio community was caused by an overheated wheel bearing on the 23rd of 149 rail cars. Local officials subsequently evacuated all residents within one mile of the accident and started a controlled burn of the vinyl chloride that the train was transporting in an effort to prevent a massive explosion from occurring.
Vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, was emitted from five train cars in the form of massive plumes of black smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
When asked by reporters if he had plans to visit East Palestine, Biden said, “no,” and proceeded to defend his administration’s response to the incident.
— 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.
Former President Donald Trump visited the town this week and touted on social media the ratings that his trip generated.
Researchers from Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon said on Friday that nine of the approximately 50 chemicals that the EPA said were present on the derailed train have higher concentrations than normal in East Palestine. They were especially concerned with above-normal levels of acrolein, a substance with a pungent odor that is “highly toxic” when inhaled, according to a report from the CDC.
Other chemicals charted at abnormally high levels included benzene, naphthalene, and vinyl chloride. “If these levels continue, they may be of health concern,” the analysis said.
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.
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.