Federal environmental authorities ordered a temporary halt to the shipment of contaminated waste from a fire train derailment site earlier this month in eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line.
Region 5 administrator Debra Shore of the Environmental Protection Agency said Saturday the agency ordered Norfolk Southern to “pause” shipments from the Feb. 3 derailment site in East Palestine but promised to resume the matter. removed “very soon.”
“Everyone wants this corruption gone from the community. They don’t want the worry, and they don’t want the smell, and it’s our duty to the people of East Palestine to move it out of the community as quickly as possible,” said Shore.
Until Friday, Shore said, the railroad company was solely responsible for the disposal of the waste and Ohio environmental officials provided a list of selected and used disposal sites. Going forward, disposal plans including locations and transportation routes for contaminated waste will be subject to EPA review and approval, she said.
“The EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and legal manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further releases of hazardous substances and impacts on communities,” Shore said. She said officials have heard concerns from residents and others in several states and are reviewing “transporting some of this waste over long distances and finding the appropriate approved and certified sites to take the waste.”
No one was injured when 38 Norfolk Southern cars were derailed in a fiery mangled mess on the outskirts of the town, but as concerns grew over a possible explosion due to hazardous chemicals in five of the rail cars , the district’s evacuation officials. They later chose to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from the tanker cars, sending flames and black smoke billowing into the sky again.
Shore said the EPA was not involved in the decision to conduct the controlled burn, but she called it a “well-founded” decision by local and state officials based on the information they had at the time “to deal with a chemical highly toxic and explosive. .”
Federal and state officials have repeatedly said it is safe for evacuated residents to return to the area and that air testing in the town and inside hundreds of homes has not detected any levels of concern from the fires or burned chemicals. The state says the local municipal drinking water system is safe, and that bottled water is available and tested for those with private wells.
Despite these assurances and numerous news conferences and visits from politicians, many residents still express distrust or have ongoing questions about what they have been exposed to and how it will affect the future of their families and communities.