Biden issues executive order regarding East Palestine train derailment

EAST PALESTINE — Since the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, the Biden-Harris administration has mobilized a robust response, according to White House Assistant Press Secretary Angelo Fernández Hernández.

>>RELATED: East Palestine derailment: Timeline of key events in toxic train disaster

President Biden will issue an executive order to ensure that Norfolk Southern continues to be held accountable for the disaster.

The order will also address any long-term effects and ensure federal assistance is available to the communities affected, the assistant press secretary said.

The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to ensure Norfolk Southern complies with the Federal Unilateral Administrative Order it was issued to cover all cleanup costs.

>>RELATED: Almost $900K to East Palestine to support community health, resilience

Federal officials will remain on the ground and continue to closely monitor conditions in the affected communities for as long as it may take to ensure the contamination is fully addressed, the assistant press secretary said.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued a statement on Biden’s executive order Wednesday evening.

“This is an overdue but welcomed step to support the people of East Palestine. There is still much more work to do to make this community whole and I will continue to push the administration to deliver for East Palestine and hold Norfolk Southern accountable,” Brown said.

The executive order will direct the following Federal agency actions:

Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • Within five days of the executive order, FEMA will designate a Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator to oversee long-term recovery efforts in the affected communities.
  • The coordinator will conduct a comprehensive assessment of any unmet needs that are not addressed by Norfolk Southern and would qualify for Federal assistance.
  • The coordinator will also collaborate with the Federal, State, and local governments, the private sector, and voluntary, faith-based, and community organizations supporting the recovery.
  • The State of Ohio’s request for a major disaster declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act will be held open.
  • If the FEMA Administrator receives new information from the State, including needs that are not being addressed by Norfolk Southern, she will immediately submit a recommendation on whether a major disaster declaration is warranted.

Environmental Protection Agency

  • EPA will continue to direct the removal of contaminated soils and wastewater from the derailment site.
  • EPA will ensure that any remaining contamination in surface stream sediments is addressed and that air and water monitoring continues.
  • Within 30 days, EPA will provide a report to the President on the status of air, soil, and water monitoring and whether Norfolk Southern continues to comply with the Federal Unilateral Administrative Order to address the imminent and substantial endangerment caused by the company’s derailment.
  • Moving forward, EPA will provide the President with an updated report every 60 days until all cleanup, assessment, and monitoring work required by EPA’s Order has been completed.

Health and Human Services Administration

  • Within 60 days, HHS will provide the President with a report summarizing key conclusions from the public health testing and assessment that has been conducted to date.
  • HHS will continue to monitor the public health consequences of the derailment, including determining whether any acute medical conditions develop.
  • If medical conditions develop, HHS and EPA will each evaluate whether a public health emergency should be declared.
  • HHS will provide technical assistance to Ohio and Pennsylvania in the event that either state considers submitting a proposal for services through the Medicaid program for individuals affected by the derailment.

Department of Transportation

  • Within 60 days, DOT will provide the President with a report detailing the actions they are taking in response to the East Palestine train derailment.
  • The report will be updated within 120 days of the final National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
  • DOT will provide the President with a preliminary set of follow-on actions to ensure accountability.
Comments on this article