EPA Admin Slams States Trying To Block Transportation Of Toxic Waste From Ohio Train Derailment Site

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan demanded states with hazardous waste disposal sites open their facilities to receive toxic waste from a toxic train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, during a Friday press conference.
  • Texas, Michigan, Indiana and Oklahoma officials all pushed back against receiving the toxic waste, but Regan said states should not impede cleanup efforts.
  • “There is nothing special or out of the ordinary about this waste other than the fact that it is coming from a town that has suffered deeply in the wake of a horrible trauma,” Regan said.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan slammed states that are attempting to prevent toxic waste from a Norfolk Southern derailment site in eastern Ohio from being transported through their state lines during a press conference Friday morning.

Nearly 2,000 East Palestine residents were evacuated in early February after a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed, and a controlled burn conducted days later cast a plume over the town and spilled the chemicals into the air, soil and water. The EPA has shipped 5,460 tons of contaminated soil and 6.8 million gallons of contaminated water from the site, according to a press release sent to the Daily Caller News Foundation, however states with hazardous waste disposal sites have pushed back about receiving the transported material. (RELATED: Erin Brockovich Warns It Could Take ‘Decades’ For Ohio Town To Recover After Toxic Train Derailment)

“Let me be clear. We ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the mess it made and no-one should be impeding, preventing or getting in the way of cleaning up this site and returning East Palestine to the beautiful community residents know it to be,” Regan told reporters. “So today, I directed my team to issue two notifications. One to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and the other to EPA’s co-regulators across the country to remind both the company and our state partners of their legal obligations.”

Regan denied that the EPA is a “roadblock” to transporting contaminated waste nor has it “imposed any conditions that have prevented shipments of waste to appropriate facilities.”

Texas, Michigan and Indiana officials pushed back against the toxic waste being sent to their states for disposal and argue that the material should be disposed of closer to the derailment site, NPR reported. Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said on March 12 that he rejected the toxic waste from being shipped to the Sooner State because “there are too many unanswered questions” and it is “not in the best interest of Oklahomans,” according to Tulsa World.

States that block shipments could prevent Norfolk Southern from complying with EPA orders, Regan said. It also “raises concerns under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The EPA responded to the derailment hours after it occurred and has remained on the ground to assist in ongoing cleanup efforts. Regan implored to reporters that the toxic waste being transported from the site “has been subject to more testing and more analysis with more characterization than many other similar waste regularly accepted at facilities nationwide.”

“States have no basis to prevent [receiving] of out of state waste from East Palestine while allowing simpler waste to be disposed in their states,” Regan said. “There is nothing special or out of the ordinary about this waste other than the fact that it is coming from a town that has suffered deeply in the wake of a horrible trauma.”

It will take approximately three months for the EPA to complete cleanup in East Palestine, Regan estimated. The timeline could change because of “conditions of weather and access to disposal facilities,” but the agency is “optimistic.”

East Palestine Information Update 3.16.23 by Alexa Schwerha on Scribd

The EPA, alongside local, state and federal officials, will continue efforts to remove portions of the railroad tracks and place removed soil in staging areas until it can be transported, according to the press release. Republican Ohio Senator JD Vance called on Regan to expedite transporting the soil during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on March 9.

“The Governor of Michigan, an administration ally and rising democratic star, leapt to prevent the waste from being transported to her state. Other states soon raised their own objections, and for nearly a week a vast hill of poison soil has sat there, basically in the middle of town, kicked up by passing trains for children to breathe, falling to earth to leach into the drinking water,” he said.

The EPA conducted 616 indoor air screenings and monitors the air at 23 stations, according to the press release. It reports no detection of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride.

The agency “does not anticipate exceedances of levels of health concern as a result of the soil removal work,” the press release reads.

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