‘Lazy and incompetent’: Buttigieg’s ‘sudden concern’ over Ohio train disaster met with scorn

Having gone ten whole days without addressing the increasingly concerning train derailment in Ohio, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s silence breaker landed as well as expected.

As with so much the government does, the solution often appears worse than the original problem, and, according to reports, such is the case in the response to a 150-car train that crashed at the edge of East Palestine, Ohio on February 3. Initially reported to be hauling vinyl chloride, updated lists have included diethylene glycol, polypropylene glycol, propylene glycol, polyethylene, polyvinyl and petroleum.

However, it wasn’t until well after Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) issued an evacuation for the area, which has since been rescinded, Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.) worked alongside him, a load of federal agents swept across the crash site to trigger a “controlled burn” releasing dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere and endless berating on social media, that Buttigieg finally addressed what some described as the largest environmental disaster to ever occur in the United States.

“I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the Feb 3 train derailment near East Palestine, OH,” he began acting as though he had been on top of the situation from the onset, “and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended through no fault of their own. It’s important that families have access to useful & accurate information:”

“USDOT has been supporting the investigation led by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Our Federal Rail Administration and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials teams were onsite within hours of the initial incident and continue to be actively engaged,” the secretary continued.

“We will look to these investigation results & based on them, use all relevant authorities to ensure accountability and continue to support safety. In the meantime, our Federal partners at EPA are onsite and monitoring indoor and outdoor air quality to test for VOC’s and other chemicals of concern,” Buttigieg added before providing the current progress of the Environmental Protection Agency and contact information. “EPA has screened 219 homes and no detections were identified — and 181 homes remain.”

The near and present danger of the chemicals impacting the ecosystem of the Ohio River Basin, which is home to more than 30 million people and from which over five million are supplied drinking water, made the flippant attitude of Buttigieg and the federal government, producing a tweet and not holding a major press conference, all the more worse than his disastrous handling of the supply chain crisis, airline cancellations and infrastructure needs across the country.

Many pointed out that it was only after the story that had been widely ignored by corporate media suddenly grew too serious to disregard that Buttigieg spoke out at the bare minimum.

As previously reported, Buttigieg had been more concerned on Monday decrying a lack of diversity in construction projects saying, “We have heard way too many stories from generations past of infrastructure where you got a neighborhood, often a neighborhood of color, that finally sees the project come to them, but everyone in the hard hats on that project, doing the good paying jobs, don’t look like they came from anywhere near the neighborhood.”

Of course, the secretary’s long-delayed response to the derailment failed to address as many as a dozen others that have already taken place so far this year, including a developing story out of Enoree, South Carolina, and another incident involving hazardous chemicals outside Houston, Texas and the reality on the ground where more than 3,500 fish have been reported dead as well as an unknown number of wildlife, local residents are experiencing concerning health symptoms and are increasingly hesitant to use the water supply.


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Kevin Haggerty


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