President Biden Visits East Palestine

President Biden visited the Village of East Palestine on Friday, February 16, a little more than a year after a Norfolk Southern train derailment that spilled hazardous chemicals. Biden toured the site with Mayor Trent Conaway and Fire Chief Keith Drabick and received a briefing from the Environmental Protection Agency on the continuing response and recovery efforts.

Biden promised residents that the U.S. government would fulfill its obligation and remain in the area until the clean-up efforts were complete. “I want to continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and make sure they make your community whole, now and in the future,” Biden said. “And what they do not make whole, what they cannot make whole, what isn’t made whole — the government will make whole, we have an obligation.”

At the press conference, President Biden announced the award of six National Institutes of Health grants to some of America’s best research universities to study the short- and long-term health impacts. He also restated his support for the Bipartisan Rail Safety Bill. And he asked the Senate to follow the House and pass the tax reform bill, to ensure that no one is taxed for anything that is reimbursed or received from Norfolk Southern.

Mayor Trent Conaway had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the village and noted, “Our village has faced many challenges, but as a community, we have shown resilience. We will not be defined by this single event, rather our response to it and our perseverance. President Biden, your long awaited visit to our village today allows us to focus on the things we agree with. Acknowledging this disaster should have never happened. Address the long time health concerns and the economic growth of the village, and ensure this never happens again to another community.”

“Our goal is to be collaborative and proactive, collectively taking control of what we can shape for a stronger future. This includes support of the bipartisan railway legislation and federal tax relief for funds received from Norfolk Southern. We will not stop working, though we will continuously strive to improve, not relying on just external aid, but on each other and our own efforts to elevate the village. We are committed to seizing every opportunity for growth, enhancing our community’s strength and resilience through initiative and perseverance. Here in East Palestine, we are rooted in pride, tradition, and unwavering in our drive for progress and to determine the outcome of any obstacle. I thank you all for coming here today and God bless East Palestine and the United States.”

Watch the video for Mayor Conaway’s full comments.