East Palestine – A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio.
The train derailment caused a fire due to the toxic chemicals on board.
Also, because of the risk of an explosion, officials ordered an evacuation of the area within a mile of the incident, which occurred near James Street.
Dams stopped the flow of tainted water while the EPA community cleared floating garbage and monitored the air.
Despite the fact that people have returned, some have claimed health problems such as:
- Breathing troubles
The company in charge of the hazardous material, Norfolk Southern, has actively participated in the monitoring by supplying bottled water to East Palestine locals.
Yet, some passengers have launched a class action suit against Norfolk Southern.
In addition, Republican senators have proposed an investigation into the train catastrophe.
Several House Republican committees plan to examine the event in East Palestine, Ohio, according to committee chairmen.
Republican senators have pledged to examine the Biden administration’s “flawed” reaction to the tragedy.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed, threatening East Palestine inhabitants’ access to city air and public water.
Republicans, according to authorities, have left the door open for hearings, including calling Michael Regan and Pete Buttigieg to appear publicly.
Buttigieg is the Transportation Secretary, while Regan is the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Sadly, no decisions have been made.
A fresh sense of urgency
The Republican Party is putting more focus on surveillance after multiple senators blasted President Joseph Biden for failing to visit East Palestine.
Biden stated last week that he had no intentions to visit the site, citing his administration’s stance.
“You know, we were there two hours after the train went down – two hours,” said the president.
“I’ve spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and in Ohia, and so the idea that we’re not engaged is just simply not there.”
“And initially, there was not a request for me to go out even before I was heading over to Kyiv, so I’m keeping very close tabs on it. We’re doing all we can.”
A committee has been formed to investigate what happened and hold the Biden administration and the railroad industry responsible for the catastrophe.
The committee consists of:
- The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- The House Committee on Energy and Commerce
- The House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Furthermore, some GOP committee members are considering holding a field hearing in East Palestine.
According to people participating in the discussions, formal arrangements have yet to be completed.
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The Energy and Commerce Committee requested that the EPA appear before the panel’s Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee.
According to a committee staffer, the subcommittee is chaired by GOP Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents East Palestine.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Energy and Commerce Committee Chair and a Republican from Washington state, joins Johnson.
On February 17, they tried to launch the investigation by writing to Regan and requesting information on the circumstances leading up to the train catastrophe.
They also asked for the following:
- A list of the chemicals on the train
- Materials relating to the EPA’s and local agencies’ response
- Other information regarding the derailment
Johnson and McMorris Rodgers’ request must be responded to by March 3.
Meanwhile, the Energy and Commerce Committee asked EPA officials for an all-members briefing and a hearing date.
Insiders said they are still waiting for a response.
According to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee spokesperson Justin Harclerode, the committee intends to keep members updated as new information becomes available.
The committee is also closely monitoring the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation.
“The important thing is to learn exactly what happened, what factors played a role in the accident, and what factors did not,” said Harclerode.
“The Committee is staying engaged on this issue, but no one should jump to any conclusions or act without all the facts. Which is exactly what the NTSB is working to provide through their investigation.”
House Oversight Chairman James Comer wrote to Pete Buttigieg on Friday, calling the situation an environmental and public health calamity affecting Citizens.
Comer asked Buttigieg to give over papers related to the incident, such as what the administration learned about the disaster and correspondence concerning the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s handling of the derailment paperwork.
“At this time, Chairman Comer is focused on acquiring the documents and information requested in his February 24 letter to Secretary Buttigieg,” said Austin Hacker, a spokesman for Comer.