President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order announcing the White House’s plan to hold railroad operator Norfolk Southern accountable over the devastating freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Along with ensuring that Norfolk Southern is held accountable, the Biden administration said that the executive order will, “address any of the disaster’s long-term effects, and to ensure federal assistance is available to affected communities should needs develop that are not met by Norfolk Southern.”
The order comes more than seven months after the Feb. 3 crash.
The White House said in a press release that, “President Biden pledged he would make Norfolk Southern clean up its mess in East Palestine, and he meant it.”
A new Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator will be appointed within five days of Biden’s signing the order to oversee long-term recovery efforts in East Palestine, the White House announced.
Following the derailment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing to test the air, soil, and water for dangerous contaminants.
The executive order also says the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC will submit public health testing reports to the president.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also continue monitoring health effects of derailment on residents in the area, including long term issues in the community to determine if a public health emergency should be called.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that the executive is an “overdue but welcomed step.”
“Overdue, but a step in the right direction,” the Democrat Senator wrote in a X post. “There’s still much more work to do to make this community whole. I’ll keep pushing the administration to deliver for East Palestine & hold Norfolk Southern accountable. No matter what it takes.”
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