White House Insists Biden Still Plans To Visit East Palestine Five Months After Train Derailment
US President Joe Biden speaks during a National Education Association event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
(Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The White House claimed on Wednesday that President Joe Biden still plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio, five months after the Norfolk Southern train derailment disaster.

But White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to share a date when a reporter raised a question about a visit, noting that Biden has “done a lot of travel in recent weeks and months” to other places.

“So, I’m just going to repeat what the president said,” Jean-Pierre said. “He will travel to the area, to East Palestine. Just don’t have anything to share on travel or upcoming dates that he’ll be there. But the president said it, he’s going to go. So he will go. Once we have a date, we’ll certainly share that.”

A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed on February 3 while passing through the small town of East Palestine, a village near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania. Locals soon began to raise concerns about health and environmental threats posed by a controlled burn of toxic chemicals at the crash site meant to deter a large explosion.

Weeks later, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway described Biden visiting Ukraine instead of his community as “the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now he doesn’t care about us.” After Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to the derailment area in late February — one day behind former President Donald Trump paying a visit to East Palestine — Biden said in early March that “at some point” he would make the trip to the town.

Jean-Pierre also said on Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reviewing Ohio Governor Mike DeWine‘s request for a major disaster declaration and she stressed that Norfolk Southern was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to pay for cleanup costs.


“The EPA is making them pay so that the taxpayers don’t have to pay for their mess,” Jean-Pierre said. “And so we’ve been very clear about that. The EPA has been on top of that. And so when it comes to Norfolk Southern, they have met their terms of the order to date and there are stiff penalties if they do not.”

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