DERAILED: Disaster in East Palestine

Biden administration issues response to Ohio train derailment

The Biden administration said it will hold Norfolk Southern accountable for cleanup costs stemming from its train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

A cleanup worker stands on a derailed tank car.

The White House said it is deploying additional resources to East Palestine, Ohio, nearly two weeks after a train derailment prompted environmental concerns in the region.

Although officials say the air is safe, there remain lingering concerns over the long-term impacts after vinyl chloride and other chemicals were released into the atmosphere.

State officials ordered the town to evacuate late on Feb. 5, nearly 48 hours after the derailment. Within days, residents were allowed to return.

Although Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said that he was told the region doesn't not meet the standard for it to be declared a federal disaster area, White House officials are deploying additional resources there.

In addition to having the Environmental Protection Agency continue to monitor air quality, the White House said it is holding Norfolk Southern accountable for the costs associated with the cleanup. DeWine echoed on Friday that it was Norfolk Southern's responsibility to pay for the cleanup.

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To date, Norfolk Southern has said it is reimbursing East Palestine residents for their evacuation costs.

"Norfolk Southern responded and has agreed to fund response costs but we will continue to exercise the full authority under the law to hold the company accountable under the Comprehensive Environmental Remediation, Compensation and Liability Act," a White House official said.

The administration also said it agreed to a response from DeWine to send teams of federal health officials and toxicologists "to conduct public health testing and assessments."

Federal officials said that they are still in the emergency response phase, but that will soon shift to a remediation phase.

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