It’s been over 18 days since the train derailment that sent toxic chemicals into the environment of East Palestine and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has finally announced that he will be making a trip to the area.
During a recent appearance on ABC, Buttigieg was pressed on the Biden Administration’s slow response to the crisis, with host George Stephanopolous asking when Buttigieg planned to make a trip to the town.
"I am planning to go," Buttigieg began, "look I was mayor of my hometown for 8 years, we dealt with a lot of disasters, natural and human,” he continued. However, he gave no concrete date as to when he would be making the trip.
It took 10 days of residents and reporters detailing local animals dying, complaining of headaches and rashes and raising concern over the potentially poisoned air and water supply for Buttigieg to respond to the derailment, tweeting, "I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the Feb 3 train derailment near East Palestine, OH, and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended."
3 days later, Buttigieg then appeared on Yahoo Finance to share with the concerned public that, "While this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing."
Since the derailment, citizens of East Palestine have also been told by the EPA that the air and water supply in the area are safe, with the Biden administration denying federal disaster relief for the small town last week.
This resulted in increased public criticism, and more calls for Buttigieg to visit the affected area, as reporters began taking videos of a chemical-like sheen in the rivers surrounding the area.
The administration originally shared that the city did not qualify for FEMA funding because, "FEMA believed the incident didn't qualify as a traditional disaster, such as a tornado or hurricane," per Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
However, the decision was quickly reversed just one day after former President Trump announced he would be making a trip to East Palestine later this week.
FEMA has since announced they will be sending teams to the area with Buttigieg now admitting that his response could have come sooner.
"We’ve been on the ground literally from day 1 to make sure we’re doing our part to support," he began, "I do think it’s important to speak out about that and I could have spoken out sooner," he admitted.
Many senators have called for Buttigieg to resign due his lack of response, with Biden’s recent visit to Ukraine stoking more criticism as citizens across the US ask why the President was able to make a trip across seas before visiting the residents of one of the worst ecological disasters in modern-day American history.
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