The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that cleanup and removal of hazardous waste from the East Palestine, Ohio site where a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic materials derailed on February 3rd will resume on Monday following a brief pause.
On Tuesday, February 21st, the EPA legally ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct all necessary actions associated with the cleanup from the train derailment, as previously reported by The Ohio Star. In response, Norfolk Southern had chosen to contract with licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities in Texas and Michigan for the disposal of hazardous waste from the derailment following the EPA’s legal order.
Today, EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct all cleanup actions associated with the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.https://t.co/jpF2LEC0QQ
— U.S. EPA (@EPA) February 21, 2023
Shortly after, however, the EPA ordered the company’s transport of hazardous waste from the site to be stopped so that “additional oversight measures could be put in place to supervise where Norfolk Southern disposes of the contaminated materials,” according to a Saturday press release by the Ohio Governor’s office
On Sunday, Region 5 administrator Debra Shore announced that cleanup of hazardous waste at the derailment site will resume, however, will be transported to different EPA-certified facilities than those Norfolk Southern originally contracted.
Liquid waste from the derailment site will now be taken to Vickery, Ohio while solid waste will be taken to a facility in East Liverpool, Ohio, according to WKBN.
“At EPA, we have decades of experience dealing with hazardous waste both from cleaning up contaminated sites to regulating the landfills where it’s disposed of, and we know it’s far better to have it safely stored in a properly constructed and monitored disposal facility than remain here any longer than necessary,” Shore said during a Sunday press conference in East Palestine.
Prior to the EPA’s decision to halt removal of hazardous waste from the derailment site, Norfolk Southern had already hauled away 20 truckloads – approximately 280 tons – of hazardous solid waste which included contaminated soil to the licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Michigan.
Five truckloads of contaminated soil have since been returned to East Palestine, where about 102,000 gallons of liquid waste and 4,500 cubic yards of solid waste remain in storage. As the cleanup process progresses, more liquid and solid waste will be generated, the Ohio governor’s office noted.
The fifteen truckloads of contaminated soil had already been disposed of at the licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Michigan prior to the EPA’s order. In addition, all liquid waste that had already been hauled out of East Palestine will be disposed of at the licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Texas, but no additional liquid waste will be accepted at the Texas facility until further instruction by the EPA.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.