WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will visit the eastern Ohio community that was devastated by a fiery train derailment in February 2023 that displaced thousands of residents and left many fearing potential health effects from the toxic chemicals that spilled when a Norfolk Southern train went off the tracks.
A White House official said Wednesday that Biden will visit East Palestine in February, a year after the derailment. A date for the Democratic president’s trip was not given. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Biden’s plans had yet to be formally announced.
The Feb. 3, 2023, derailment forced thousands of people from their homes near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Area residents still have lingering fears about potential health effects from the toxic chemicals that spilled and from the vinyl chloride that was released a few days after the crash to keep five tank cars from exploding.
The Biden administration defended its response right after the toxic freight train derailment, even as local leaders and members of Congress demanded that more be done. The White House said then that it had “mobilized a robust, multi-agency effort to support the people of East Palestine, Ohio,” and it noted that officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies were at the rural site within hours even though Biden didn’t visit.