Gov. DeWine says he hasn’t seen Pete Buttigieg ‘at all’ after toxic train derailment

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Frustrated voices were heard exploding with concerns at a town hall on Wednesday night as Ohio residents, impacted by a disastrous and toxic train derailment, asked where Democrat Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was. 

“Where’s Pete Buttigieg? Where’s he at?” one man asked Mayor Trent Conaway at the town meeting. 

“I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine,” Conway replied, adding that the day before, on Tuesday, was the first time he had “heard anything from the White House.”

In a Wednesday letter to Buttigieg, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and J.D. Vance wrote to request information from his department regarding oversight of the freight train system and other concerns. Fox News reported on Thursday that the senators gave the secretary 30 days to respond.

Buttigieg had tweeted on Tuesday that the department was “constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015), but we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe.”

On Wednesday night, responding to tweets from GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Sen. Ilhan Omar, Buttigieg said he was “glad to see newfound bipartisan agreement” over the issue but wasn’t doing anything to help any locals.

“We could start by discussing immediate steps Congress could take to address rail safety & reduce constraints on USDOT in this area,” he suggested, asking Cruz to call the department.

placeholderEnvironmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan is set to visit East Palestine on Thursday, and Buttigieg retweeted a video of Regan saying rail operator Norfolk Southern would be held accountable for its role in the incident. Yet, he did nothing to assist the local people.

Norfolk Southern did not attend the meeting, citing safety concerns for its staff.

According to the Daily Mail, “Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said he has not seen Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg “at all” in the aftermath of the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio.”

A train carrying toxic chemicals derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, prompting evacuations and shelter-in-place orders as authorities moved to address the release of the chemicals. Officials warned of a possible “catastrophic blast” on Feb. 6, carrying out a controlled burn of the chemicals, which resulted in a plume of toxic smoke filling the air, they reported citing a Cincinnati Enquirer report.

“I’ve not seen him at all,” DeWine said of Buttigieg, who has come under fire for waiting until Monday evening to discuss the situation via a thread on Twitter. “I did get a call from the president. You know, the president said I’ll send you whatever you need.”

Dewine appeared on Fox News to give an update on the massive disaster and talked about the fallout.


“We’re concerned, we’re not going to leave. We’re going to continue to do everything that we can, every single day, 24/7,” DeWine said. “Because look, this could be my family in there, could be a loved one in there. These are people we care about. They’re our citizens. We’re going to do everything we can to protect them.”

The Daily Mail went on in their report saying that MacCallum pressed DeWine on reports from residents of effects from the chemical spill, including “polka-dot lips” and “waking up in the middle of the night flushed and red.”

Residents of the town described “uneasiness” following the derailment when talking to the Daily Caller News Foundation, with some saying they have bought air purifiers and only drink bottled water. Others noted the deaths of fish and animals, including family pets, prompting a local humane society to urge people to go to veterinary offices to have their pets examined.

“The railroad won’t give answers. It’s kind of brushed off by Governor DeWine, the severity of it, and I’m not sure if it’s because we’re a poor community that it doesn’t really matter, if maybe we were a more affluent community maybe more people would take notice, but we matter,” East Palestine resident Bree Hall told the DCNF. “East Palestine matters and I just wish more people would take it serious.”

The outlet went on:

DeWine said the Ohio EPA was testing the drinking water in the system and that those with private wells could have them tested.

“The water in the system, the community system, the village’s system, that water is safe. If you have an individual well, what we have said is we will come out, Ohio EPA will come out and test your individual well,” DeWine said. “So until your well is tested, if that’s what your water source is, you should not drink it. So I would wait until I’ve got the all clear from an actual test that will be done if you have an individual well.”

The Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.


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