President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will send additional support to those impacted by the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, according to a White House press release.
Many residents of the small Ohio town are still living with the consequences of the crash months after the Feb. 4 evacuation order forced them to flee their homes ahead of a controlled burn of the derailment site that released toxic chemicals into the air. Biden said in an executive order that he will continue to hold Norfolk Southern (the company whose train crashed in February) accountable for the crash, will have federal agencies test the contamination levels of the town every 60 days and promised aid to residents if Norfolk Southern was not able to completely help the area, according to the press release. (RELATED: Norfolk Southern To Pay Lost Home Value For Residents Impacted By Toxic Train Derailment)
“President Biden pledged he would make Norfolk Southern clean up its mess in East Palestine, and he meant it,” the press release said. “The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to ensure Norfolk Southern complies with the Federal Unilateral Administrative Order it was issued to cover all cleanup costs, and Federal officials remain on the ground and will continue to closely monitor conditions in the affected communities for as long as it may take to ensure the contamination is fully addressed.”
Residents and local politicians have repeatedly criticized Biden for his response, and have called on the president to fulfill the promise he made in March to visit East Palestine. Biden said on Sept. 2 that he would not visit the town because he has “a lot going on” and hasn’t “been able to break.”
Biden claimed that his administration has “mobilized a robust, multi-agency effort to support the people of East Palestine, Ohio,” according to a White House press release from February. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have “monitored” East Palestine since Feb. 4, and Biden ordered additional federal agencies to monitor the situation in the area on Feb. 16.
But Biden declined to declare a major disaster in East Palestine and denied Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s request for FEMA aid to East Palestine residents after the chemical spill in February. The EPA has also refused to test for some toxic chemicals at the crash site.
Biden announced Wednesday that he will reopen Ohio’s request for FEMA aid and said the agency will reconsider their decision to deny aid if additional information about contamination in the town surfaces, according to the press release. The government will continue to hold back assistance to the area unless “needs develop that are not met by Norfolk Southern.”
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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