News & Reviews News Wire White House issues executive order on Norfolk Southern’s response to East Palestine, Ohio, wreck

White House issues executive order on Norfolk Southern’s response to East Palestine, Ohio, wreck

By Bill Stephens | September 21, 2023

Several federal agencies were directed to provide reports and continue monitoring cleanup progress in the wake of the Feb. 3 derailment that spilled hazardous materials

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Black cloud of smoke above town
Smoke during rises from the Norfolk Southern derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 6 as part of the controlled release of chemicals from derailed tank cars. Bazetta, Ohio, Fire Department, via Facebook

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered federal agencies to continue their response to the Feb. 3 toxic derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio, and to ensure that the railroad covers all cleanup costs.

“As part of his commitment to the people of East Palestine, President Biden is today issuing an Executive Order to ensure that Norfolk Southern continues to be held accountable for this disaster, to 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 White House said.

The order requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to appoint a disaster recovery coordinator by Monday. The coordinator will assess whether there are any unmet needs not covered by NS that would qualify for federal assistance, as well as consider whether a disaster declaration is warranted.

The Environmental Protection Agency was directed to continue to oversee removal of contaminated soil and water, ensure that stream contamination is addressed, and that air and water monitoring continue. The agency must deliver a report within 30 days on the status of environmental monitoring and whether NS continues to comply with federal orders. Subsequent reports will be due every 60 days.

The Health and Human Services Administration must provide the president with a report within 60 days that summarizes the conclusions of public health testing and any health conditions that may be related to the derailment. The agency also must continue to monitor any potential public health consequences of the wreck.

The Department of Transportation must, within 60 days, provide the White House with a report detailing actions it is taking in response to East Palestine, followed by an updated report within 120 days of the date the National Transportation Safety Board releases its final report on the derailment.

NS CEO Alan Shaw has repeatedly pledged to “make things right” in East Palestine, and in addition to cleanup and environmental remediation efforts, the railroad has launched a number of initiatives to support local residents and businesses.

“From the beginning, Norfolk Southern has committed to making it right in East Palestine and covering all costs associated with the cleanup. In the months since, we have made significant progress, keeping our promises to safely and thoroughly clean the derailment site, support the needs of the community, and invest in its future,” railroad spokesman Tom Crosson says. “We remain committed to East Palestine today, and into the future, and will continue to work closely with federal, state, and local leaders.”

NS has spent $95 million for direct community support to date and continues air and water monitoring. The railroad has also committed to creating long-term funds that will address potential health impacts, home values, and drinking water protection.

23 thoughts on “White House issues executive order on Norfolk Southern’s response to East Palestine, Ohio, wreck

  1. I take it this “paper shuffle” is in lieu of his promise to meet with the people of East Palestine in-person? A dog and pony show so we will forget about his promise?

    And, why weren’t these agencies doing this already?

  2. This was a derailment where no one was killed or even injured and no property other than railroad property was damaged. The entire response from both sides of the aisle have been driven by yellow Journalism at its worse.

    1. No property damage other than railroad property? The air, ground and water are polluted. Some residents have health issues from the derailment and fire. Businesses still haven’t recovered, houses are now worth less then before the derailment cause no one wants to move to that town. Have you even visited or talked to any residents from East Palistine?

  3. I must confess, definitely a PR stunt but since I am not an American I didn’t have a say, I only wish we could find better leaders, here too!

  4. I never see so many whiners as I do on some of these pages. The same people that have fantastic replies to other stories will stoop down to whine about something they have no control over and no clue to what goes on behind the scenes. Since February I’ve seen stories here about East Palestine with some good commentary from some of you yet here is one story and you turn it into an OMG moment of how dare he say anything. Enjoy your day!

  5. To bad he doesn’t hold his own government accountable for the radioactive waste they dumped in Coldwater creek in St Louis Mo

  6. Well after all, he did try to shake hands with the Brazilian flag yesterday. A man is entitled to miss a few here and there, right?

  7. The White House doesn’t want corporations to act responsibly. They need villains.
    No good deed goes unpunished.

  8. Gee, he must be the first American politician to grandstand after a tragedy. This just took longer, as than man is a total vegetable and the people actually running the government were slow to act.

    The various federal agencies watching East Palestine either have or haven’t been doing their work all along. Either way, what’s the purpose of this executive order so many months after the fact?

    1. When in doubt, create a newsworthy event. The story of politics in America, no matter who it hurts by the lies they promote. Biden doesn’t care if it hurts directors in his own administration. He has already proven that by some of his racial and nonsensical remarks. He’s running for President. He doesn’t care anything about “Truth, Justice and the American Way!”

  9. What do you mean J.B. doesn’t have a clue. That’s Amtrak Joe.
    With all that made up seat time he talks about he probably could
    could come up with an answer.
    Oh Wait this was a freight train incident and a private corp.
    Disregard the above.

  10. If he really cared he would have been to East Palestine in February. Now that he has been catching the heat for not showing up, he issues this meaning less order. These are things the government should have done months ago.

  11. “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.”

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