President Biden told reporters that he has no plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio, and pointed to a “whole video Zoom” that he conducted on the train derailment.
Biden made the comments on Friday evening as he was leaving the White House to go to his Wilmington, Delaware residence.
“Are you planning to travel to East Palestine, Ohio?” a reporter asked.
“At this point, I’m not. I did a whole video, I mean, um, what the hell, on…” Biden said as he struggled to find his next words.
“Zoom?” a reported interjected.
“Zoom!” All I can think of every time I think of Zoom is that song in my generation, ‘Who’s Zooming who?” Biden said.
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Biden refuted allegations that his administration isn’t doing enough in its response to the derailment, stating that his administration was on the scene of the derailment shortly after it happened.
“Wait, wait, wait, let me answer the question. The answer is that I’ve had a long meeting with my team and what they’re doing. You know, we were there two hours after the train went down. Two hours. I’ve spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and in Ohio. And so the idea that we’re not engaged is simply not there. And initially, there was not a request for me to go out before I was heading over to Kyiv. So, I’m keeping very close tabs on it. We’re doing all we can,” Biden added.
A train with 50 rail cars, 10 of which were carrying vinyl chloride, derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3. The derailment caused hazardous chemicals to spill onto the ground and sent a plume of smoke into the air.
Days after the derailment, officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals in the days after the derailment because of the major risk of a major explosion which forced residents to evacuate.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio officials said that both the air and water in East Palestine are safe, but residents are reporting various health issues that are extending to both them and their pets.’
Shortly after his comments to reporters, Biden tweeted that he spoke with administration officials earlier “for the latest updates on our response to the train derailment in East Palestine.”
Biden’s comments come after Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the derailment happened.
During the visit, Buttigieg was asked if he waited too long to speak out about the derailment.,
“The answer to your question is yes,” he said. “I felt strongly about this and could have expressed that sooner…”Again, I was taking pains to respect the role that I have and the role that I don’t have, but that should not have stopped me from weighing in about how I felt about what was happening to this community.”
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Buttigieg didn’t address the derailment until Feb. 13.
His appearance in East Palestine coincided with the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on its investigation into the derailment, which indicated that a hot axle was the cause of the incident. The report states that the crew of the freight train was notified to slow and stop by an alarm system on the train designed to detect overheated bearings.
“After the train stopped, the crew observed fire and smoke and notified the Cleveland East dispatcher of a possible derailment. With dispatcher authorization, the crew applied handbrakes to the two railcars at the head of the train, uncoupled the head-end locomotives, and moved the locomotives about 1 mile from the uncoupled railcars,” the NTSB wrote. “Responders arrived at the derailment site and began response efforts.”
As of Monday, Norfolk Southern said that 15,000 pounds of contaminated soil as well as 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water have been removed from the site of the derailment.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.
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