President Biden has no scheduled plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio in the immediate future.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said during a press conference on Friday that the president was open to visiting the site of the catastrophic train derailment, but had no plans planned.
“We don’t have a plan for the president to go right now,” Jean-Pierre said. “We don’t have anything to preview to you all right now.”
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“I think you heard from the president just yesterday that he plans to go there at some point,” he said. “When that happens, we will coordinate with state and local officials to make that trip happen.”
A freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in the small town on February 3, causing environmental and health concerns among the inhabitants there.
“What the president has focused on is making sure that we make the community, the people in East Palestine, whole again — to make sure that they get what they need to feel safe, to make sure that they feel that their community is healthy . again,” she continued.
Biden said Thursday that he would visit East Palestine “at some point” afterward increasing pressure to do so from both sides of the aisle.
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Residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area, including part of Pennsylvania, have raised concerns about health risks after a Norfolk Southern freight train burned hazardous chemicals, sending a plume of thick black smoke into the sky.
Officials, including Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, insisted the water and air there are safe.
However, multiple reports indicate that people living there have listed a range of worrying symptoms, including headaches, dizziness and nausea, in the weeks following the derailment.
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“You’ve seen the EPA administrator. He’s been there for the third time,” the spokesman concluded at Friday’s news conference. “And so the president is engaged. He’s aware or is informed on a daily basis of what’s happening on the ground. He’s talked to the governor of Ohio, he’s talked to the governor of Pennsylvania, the senators multiple times to make sure they’re getting everything they need by the federal government.”
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine last week, although he was criticized for not dealing with the incident sooner.
Biden officials have fended off such attacks by blaming the derailment on the Trump administration’s scaling back of rail regulations.