Just two days after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s long-overdue visit to beleaguered East Palestine, Ohio, the Biden administration pulled the plug on the removal of toxic chemicals from the train derailment disaster.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ran into roadblocks with disposal of the toxic substances and wanted to ensure that the materials were taken to EPA-certified facilities.
Therefore, the agency on Friday took charge of the cleanup process in the aftermath of the cataclysmic Norfolk Southern railroad accident. The company had previously been moving solid waste from the site in truckloads, but five of the 20 sent away were returned to East Palestine.
Officials in Michigan charged that they were not made aware that the toxic materials were being shipped to their state.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s office reported that, besides the returned truckloads, the town still holds over 100,000 gallons of liquid waste and 4,000 cubic yards of solid waste from the derailment.
Check this out!
Today, the EPA halted Norfolk Southern from cleaning up the remaining 102,000 gallons of toxic liquid waste, & 4,500 cubic yds of solid waste, still at the East Palestine detonation site.
They can’t find companies that’ll accept the waste! They’re returning it!
— 🇺🇸ProudArmyBrat (@leslibless) February 26, 2023
There are also additional quantities being produced by the cleanup process.
The EPA’s region 5 director, Debra Shore, announced that the removal process should resume shortly. She acknowledged that “everyone wants this contamination gone from the community” and that the agency will dispose of it in a “safe and lawful manner.”
Shore confirmed that the EPA heard from concerned residents and others in numerous states worried about the transportation of the toxic materials. She said officials are reviewing the process and “finding the appropriate permitted and certified sites to take the waste.”
Liquid waste was already shipped to a licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Texas. Gov. DeWine’s office said that location will not accept further liquid waste from East Palestine.
There were no initial injuries when the train derailed on the outskirts of the town, but evacuations were carried out for fear of a hazardous chemical explosion. Officials then decided to release and burn the toxic vinyl chloride, sending ominous billowing clouds of black smoke into the sky.
Residents now deal with coughs and respiratory problems, and anger rapidly grew over what was seen as a lack of federal response to the environmental crisis. Authorities quickly claimed that the air and water in East Palestine were safe, but there remain many unanswered questions.