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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Biden to visit East Palestine, Ohio, about a year after derailment

Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 2023. - The train accident sparked a massive fire and evacuation orders, officials and reports said Saturday. No injuries or fatalities were reported after the 50-car train came off the tracks late Feb. 3 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border. The train was shipping cargo from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, when it derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.    (Dustin Franz/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Kelly Yamanouchi Atlanta Journal-Constitution

President Joe Biden plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio, in February, roughly a year after the derailment there of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials.

Biden will meet with residents affected by the derailment and assess the work his administration has done in coordination with state and local officials to protect the community and hold Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern accountable, according to the White House.

No specific date was given for a visit. Over the year since the catastrophic wreck on Feb. 3 of last year residents and officials in Ohio have pressed for the president to visit the town.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board, and Department of Health and Human Services have worked on response to the derailment, according to the White House.

Last year, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up all environmental damage caused by the derailment, and Biden issued an executive order directing Norfolk Southern to be held accountable and to address long-term effects.

Last week, Norfolk Southern reported that it had accumulated $1.1 billion in charges so far from the derailment, including costs for the cleanup, legal expenses and liability, payments to residents who relocated and donations to the community in the surrounding areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The wreck occurred near the state line between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Federal officials have worked in coordination with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Environmental Protection agency, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health, Columbiana County and East Palestine.