February 20, 2024   

East Palestine Let Down by Biden’s Visit 

Many residents are claiming the President’s visit was just a show, calling it too little too late. 


EAST PALESTINE – On Friday, February 16, 2024, President Biden visited a neighboring town in Pennsylvania to meet with individuals from East Palestine, Ohio. In the long-awaited visit, Biden met with residents, Mayor Trent Conway, Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss the derailment and the cleanup efforts conducted by the agencies. In his press conference that afternoon, he said “Norfolk Southern failed” the small village. However, the President did not address the health concerns being experienced by the residents, the levels of dioxins and other dangerous chemicals, or mentioned anything about declaring a national disaster for the incident.  

Furthermore, we provided the White House with a 52-page briefing packet on East Palestine before the President’s visit to the Ohio town. The packet detailed the unfolding medical nightmare among residents as well as statements from toxicologists concerned about the health impacts as well the EPA’s reliance on environmental monitoring by Norfolk Southern contractors. We implored the President to meet with residents who are sick and critical of the EPA’s response. We also provided recommendations including a disaster declaration, medical care and monitoring for residents and holding EPA accountable.     

Whistleblower client and independent scientist, Scott Smith, stated: 

My heart goes out to the residents of East Palestine that were silenced on Friday and whose voices were not heard and cannot get the help they need.  Don’t be fooled by the disingenuous tough talk for the cameras about ‘holding Norfolk Southern accountable,’ after watching the EPA on Friday, there is no doubt that the EPA is the public relations arm of Norfolk Southern as they obfuscate testing to fit the Norfolk Southern false narrative.” 


Our Legal Director, Tom Devine, commented:  

“The President said there’s a lot left to do. He’s right. But his speech skipped what’s needed. First, he needs to hold the EPA accountable, not just the railroad. The EPA chief he praised has betrayed the public trust and is now declaring victory. Second, he must retract the government’s reassurances that the town is safe. Residents’ grotesque medical nightmares belie that claim. Third, he needs to order credible, independent sampling. The EPA’s data comes from an honor system by a Norfolk Southern contractor with a long history of not finding public health threats despite clear evidence to the contrary. Most basic, he needs to hear the whole truth. The White House cherry-picked the residents who met with the President. The visit will not include the voices of residents leading the attacks on EPA’s disinformation that the town is safe and called the bluff on rigged EPA sampling.”  

Contact: Mary Allain, Interim Communications Director
Email[email protected]
Phone: (202) 926-3304 

Government Accountability Project 

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.