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Ohio train derailment: US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says he plans to visit East Palestine

'I’ve been careful to respect the independent role of the NTSB and stay out of their way, but we’re now entering the phase where it’s about policy,' Buttigieg said.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Former President Donald Trump and activist Erin Brockovich are two of the notable names traveling to East Palestine this week as concerns continue swirling around the Ohio train derailment.

But they're not alone in their plans to visit the region.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tells 3News he is "planning to come" at some point as well.

"I’ve been careful to respect the independent role of the NTSB and stay out of their way, but we’re now entering the phase where it’s about policy," Buttigieg said Tuesday morning in a one-on-one interview with 3News' Dave Chudowsky. "It’s about what my department does, which is ensuring that there’s a high standard for these railroad companies. I think an important part of that process is to be with the residents of East Palestine, to hear their stories and to talk about the action that we’re taking right now.”

Buttigieg, however, did not elaborate on when he plans to visit the East Palestine area.

You can watch our full 12-minute interview with Buttigieg in the video below:

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As far as former President Trump's visit, Buttigieg had the following reaction.

“I’ll just say this. One thing I learned early on in my time as a mayor dealing with a lot of disasters is that there’s two kinds of people who show up when there’s a disaster: Folks who are there with a specific job to do and with action that’s going to make a difference. Then folks who want to look good. I’ll let people make their own decisions.”

Earlier Tuesday, Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation called for a “three-pronged push to hold the freight rail industry accountable and improve safety.”

Among the highlights within Buttigieg’s immediate calls for action:

  • Freight rail industry should accelerate phase-in of safer tank cars and provide workers paid sick leave, and Congress can raise existing caps on the fines for rail safety regulations
  • USDOT will advance train crew staffing rule, initiate a focused safety inspection program on routes over which high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs) travel

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