Buttigieg Visits Train Derailment Site in East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is in the village this morning visiting the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment.

Buttigieg posted a statement and video on Twitter shortly before 8 a.m. confirming his presence.

“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,” he tweeted.

The cabinet official’s visit, which came the day after former President Donald Trump’s brief visit to East Palestine to deliver water and cleaning supplies and meet with local officials, followed weeks of criticism by Democrats and Republicans of the federal response to the Feb. 3 derailment that led to the temporary evacuation of the Columbiana County village.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan also has visited East Liverpool in the aftermath of the tragedy, as have several federal and state lawmakers.

Buttigieg’s itinerary after visiting the site will include a briefing by members of USDOT’s team who were “on the ground just hours after the derailment,” according to an advisory sent overnight. He later will receive an update from the National Transportation Safety Board and will meet with local emergency responders and community members.

The background release also outlined various elements of the federal government’s response to address the situation and to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the wreck.

A Politico story noted that it was “exceedingly rare for a transportation secretary to visit the site of train derailment, especially one that resulted in no fatalities,” though the crash resulted in “unusually heavy national media attention,” driven in part by the images of black smoke and residents’ concerns over water and air safety.

Earlier this week, Buttigieg had told reporters that he would visit East Palestine “when the time was right” and had said he referred to past practices of transportation secretaries by deferring to NTSB following such incidents. He acknowledged in an interview with CBS News that he “could have spoken out sooner” about the train wreck and not doing so represented a “lesson learned.”

Pictured at top: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during his visit to the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.