Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged Tuesday that he “could have spoken sooner” about the disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that has caused serious health and environmental concerns because of the hazardous chemicals it was transporting.
The 38 cars that derailed roughly two weeks ago were carrying substances including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene — all toxic to humans and the environment. The train derailment contaminated at least 15,000 pounds of soil and 1.1 million gallons of water, according to Norfolk Southern. Ohio residents have expressed outrage and frustration over the federal government’s slow response in providing health and humanitarian services. Buttigieg took 10 days to publicly address the crisis, a response which he now concedes should have come sooner.
“I was focused on just making sure that our folks on the ground were all set, but could have spoken sooner about how strongly I felt about this incident, and that’s a lesson learned for me,” Buttigieg told CBS News political correspondent Caitlin Huey-Burns Tuesday in an interview airing on CBS News’ “Red & Blue.”
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