As concerns grow over the lasting impacts of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment that resulted in the burning of vinyl chloride to prevent an explosion, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg remained silent on these concerns in a Monday conference, instead focusing on the number of white construction workers in the country.
"We have heard way too many stories from generations past of infrastructure where you got a neighborhood, often a neighborhood of color, that finally sees the project come to them, but everyone in the hard hats on that project, doing the good paying jobs, don't look like they came from anywhere near the neighborhood," Buttigieg said, speaking during the National Association of Counties Conference.
"You can build community wealth that will help close wealth gaps in this country if we can tear down those barriers. But that happens at the delivery level," he added.
In the same conference speech, Buttigieg blamed the current state of American infrastructure on the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It's had its challenges, right? I mean, if you look at what the American transportation systems have faced in the last two or three years, partly because of the pandemic, we've faced issues from container shipping to airline cancellations. Now we got balloons," he said.
According to Fox News, the transportation secretary did not address the February 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, which was carrying the highly volatile chemical vinyl chloride, among others. As the chemical leaked, authorities decided the best way to prevent an explosion would be to evacuate the nearby area, and burn off the chemical.
Despite being allowed to return to their homes and the Biden administration and state officials assuring that the air is safe to breath, residents have reported a chemical smell in the air, as well as dead fish and animals like chickens.
Vinyl chloride is a carcinogen, as well as ethylhexyl acrylate, which was carried on the train.
On Monday, two more trains derailed in the US, one in Enoree, South Carolina, and another in Houston, Texas, caused by a driver in an 18-wheel truck that crossed the train tracks and was fatally hit. Police said that the train crossing in Houston did not have any lights or gates.
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