'Enough with the politics': Biden official slaps down Buttigieg for blaming Trump over East Palestine

 February 26, 2023

As Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg goes on liberal news shows blaming former President Donald Trump for the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment because of relaxed regulations, another Biden official declared Thursday that his comments were nonsense and decried the politicization of the disaster. 

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy contradicted that narrative while decrying the politicization of the derailment.

During a news conference on Thursday, Homendy said that the NTSB's initial findings were that a bearing overheated and failed, causing the derailment.

“The wheel bearing failed on car number 23," Homendy said. "So even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred."

"100% preventable"

Just before the train derailed, a warning alerted the engineers to the problem, but the bearing was already 253 degrees higher than it was supposed to be, and as workers tried to slow down the train, it derailed.

Alerts at two previous points in the train's trip did not go off, so there was very little warning that anything was wrong.

Investigators are checking several other things to find out if anything malfunctioned, or if more stringent safety regulations might be needed.

“I can tell you this much: This was 100% preventable," Homendy said. "We call things 'accidents.' There is no accident."

"I don't care about the politics"

Homendy blasted the Biden administration and the media for politicizing the derailment.

“Enough with the politics,” she said when a reporter asked about the blame game between Buttigieg and Trump. “This is a community that is suffering, this is not about politics. This is about addressing their needs [and] their concerns. That’s what this should be about. So I don’t care about the politics. What I care about is figuring out how this happened.”

Officials also said Norfolk Southern and officials needed to learn from the derailment to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“We and the rail industry need to learn as much as we can from this event,” officials said. ”Norfolk Southern will develop practices and invest in technologies that could help prevent an incident like this in the future. We will also work with the owners of the rail cars on the integrity and safety of the equipment we use.”

Norfolk Southern taking responsibility

Norfolk Southern is handling cleanup of the chemicals released during and after the derailment with the help of the EPA and coordination by FEMA.

While the railroad company initially asked people to sign liability waivers in exchange for $1,000 "inconvenience" checks, it has said those waivers are voided and it will take care of any of the people of East Palestine's needs and will repair the damage the derailment caused.

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