Senator Marco Rubio is calling for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to resign over his handling of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
A Norfolk Southern train with 50 rail cars, 10 of which were carrying vinyl chloride, derailed in East Palestine on February 3. The crash resulted in hazardous chemicals spilling onto the ground and a plume of smoke rising into the air.
Officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals to avoid the risk of an explosion. The residents were evacuated before the authorities carried out the liberation, but have since been allowed to return.
Although Buttigieg was not in East Palestine, the representative Department of Transport told Fox News Digital that “[Federal Railroad Adminisrtration] And [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] personnel were on site within hours of the crash, and the Regional EPA Administrator and EPA Administrator are visiting. [National Transportation Safety Board] is the lead investigator and DOT plays a supporting role.”
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Rubio said in a letter sent to Biden on Wednesday that “Secretary Buttigieg has downplayed and ignored crisis after crisis” and prioritized “topics that have little to do with our country’s transportation system.”
“It has never been more obvious than in the last two weeks,” Buttigieg said. “Secretary Buttigieg refused to acknowledge the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, until his deliberate ignorance was no longer justified. Even after recognizing the tragedy, he continues to evade any responsibility for the safety of our country’s railway system. The circumstances leading up to the crash point to a clear lack of oversight and require intervention by our country’s top transport official.”
Rubio says it’s “part of a two-year plan.”
“During the historic maritime and land transport disruptions in 2021, Secretary Buttigieg was completely absent. With a possible rail strike looming, Secretary Buttigieg left the country last year to holiday in the Portuguese wine country. On the brink of a miss in commercial aviation, as well as recent system failures. , including one that shut down flights to Florida in January, indicate that serious and persistent problems in DOT are not being addressed sufficiently,” Rubio said.
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The Florida senator added that he “is not confident that Secretary of State Buttigieg is capable of keeping the American people safe.”
Buttegich placed some of the blame for the train derailment on the Trump administration as well as Congress.
Buttigieg said Tuesday his agency was “restricted” by the Trump administration, saying the Department of Transportation in 2018 withdrew a proposed rule that would require trains carrying certain hazardous chemicals to use electronically controlled air brakes (ECP).
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At the time, the Department of Transportation said the benefits of the technology were not definitive.
“We are limited by law in some areas of rail regulation (such as the braking rule that was repealed by the Trump administration in 2018 due to legislation passed by Congress in 2015), but we use the powers we have to keep people safe. Buttigieg tweeted.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Department of Transportation for comment.
texasstandard.news contributed to this report.