(UnitedVoice.com) – It took 20 days for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to promise a visit to East Palestine, Ohio, after the train derailment. The secretary has faced calls to resign in the weeks since the Norfolk Southern train spilled dangerous chemicals on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. But that wasn’t the only accident that’s happened recently.
On Tuesday, February 21, roughly 31 Union Pacific Railroad coal-carrying cars derailed in Nebraska. The latest derailment came on the same day Buttigieg announced he would travel to East Palestine at some point. The secretary spoke to WKYC NBC, saying he was trying to respect the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and stay out of the agency’s way while they are investigating the accident. He said he was interested in hearing from the residents of the area.
The Nebraska derailment was the fourth to occur in that particular area since May 2022. Republican Senator Josh Hawley (MO) called on the Transportation secretary to resign from his position.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) February 21, 2023
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also wants the Cabinet official to resign. On February 16, the senator sent a letter to President Joe Biden accusing Buttigieg of “downplay[ing] and ignor[ing] crisis after crisis” while not paying actual attention to transportation problems.
Train derailments are surprisingly common in the US. The Washington Post reported the Federal Railroad Administration counted 1,049 incidents in 2022. There have been more than a dozen derailments in 2023. Since 1990, there has been a 60% decrease in railroad safety incidents.
Though train derailments are common, chemical spills are not. There were only 10 leaks on trains in 2022. However, the East Palestine incident was particularly dangerous. Smoke from a controlled burn of the chemicals billowed into the air and leaked into the ground, leading to a mandatory evacuation, and residents still don’t feel safe. Instead of rushing to the scene, Buttigieg has taken his time, angering residents and Republicans.
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