Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) says the site of the devastating train derailment in Ohio is a “potential crime scene,” blasting House Republicans for not holding a hearing on the incident.
“This committee needs to hold a hearing on the derailment in East Palestine,” the New York Democrat said during a House Oversight and Accountability hearing on Thursday as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee grilled the CEO of Norfolk Southern Railway. “This is not just a disaster site. It is a potential crime scene.”
The federal government continues to deal with the fallout of the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, which sparked an environmental and public health disaster.
Ocasio-Cortez said Norfolk Southern should not be allowed to directly participate in the cleanup efforts.
“We don’t let folks return to the scene of a crime,” she said. “And we’ve been letting that — potentially, potentially — for almost a month now.”
While federal investigators have opened a probe into the company’s safety measures and culture, Pennsylvania has said it is investigating whether criminal charges could be filed in the crash in Ohio.
Ocasio-Cortez’s plea for a hearing on the derailment came during an Oversight panel investigation into the Office of Personnel Management, part of the GOP promise to hold rigorous oversight of the Biden administration in the party’s new House majority.
While federal and state officials have said that the air quality in the village of East Palestine is safe, residents have continued to report medical issues including headaches and respiratory difficulties.
Ocasio-Cortez implored Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) to organize a hearing on the incident quickly.
“This cannot be a political food fight,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Evidence is evaporating, and people are getting sick … it’s not even partisan, because in my view… both parties are failing in this moment to address the needs of people.”