EPA tells Norfolk Southern to stop shipping waste from eastern Palestine: NPR End-shutdown

Workers remove contaminated soil near train tracks on February 14, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

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Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

Workers remove contaminated soil near train tracks on February 14, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency ordered hazardous waste shipments from East Palestine, Ohio, to stop after complaints from residents and officials in other states where the toxic material was headed.

EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore said in a Press conference on Saturday that the agency ordered the Norfolk Southern Railroad to stop transporting more waste products from the derailment site until federal officials could review routes and disposal facilities.

The weekend announcement came just days after the EPA announced it would take over cleanup efforts in eastern Palestine following the train derailment earlier this month, which resulted in the release of chemicals. dangerous on the ground and in the air and raised health and safety concerns among residents. in the town and surroundings.

“We have instructed Norfolk Southern to go on hiatus, but only temporarily,” Shore said, adding that officials would resume transporting contaminated waste to approved disposal sites “very soon.”

“Going forward, waste disposal plans, including disposal location and transportation routes for contaminated waste, will be subject to review and approval by the federal EPA,” he said.

Last week, Michigan and Texas officials expressed surprise and concern that Norfolk Southern had shipped some of the contaminated waste from the derailment site to disposal facilities in their states.

“We were not notified of this reported action,” Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell said. saying in a sentence. “Our priority is to always keep the people we represent safe.”

Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Texas, saying on Wednesday that he was “very sensitive” to the concerns of residents who learned that fire-fighting water from eastern Palestine was headed for their state. On Saturday, Hidalgo saying she was “encouraged” by the EPA’s decision to stop the transports.

According to the Governor of Ohio. Mike DeWine’s office, 15 truckloads of contaminated soil have has already been scrapped at a licensed facility in Michigan. Liquid waste from eastern Palestine was also sent to a licensed facility in Texas, but no additional liquid waste will be accepted there.

About 102,000 gallons of liquid waste and 4,500 cubic yards of solid waste are currently stored in eastern Palestine, and another five truckloads of contaminated soil that had been shipped to Michigan have been returned to the city, the office said.

Connor Spielmaker, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said the company’s removal of debris from the derailment site has complied with state and federal regulations.

“These locations regularly accept this type of material and were chosen because of their specific capacity and the permits required to dispose of this type of waste,” Spielmaker said Saturday in an emailed statement to NPR. “We are working with the US EPA to resume waste removal from eastern Palestine as soon as possible.”

Shore said he believed all disposal facilities Norfolk Southern had used were “up to standard,” but that the EPA was reviewing transportation routes and facilities in response to residents’ concerns.

She said it was important for East Palestinian residents, as well as those in communities where the waste might go, to ensure the process was done correctly.

“We know it’s much better to have it safely stored in a properly constructed and monitored disposal facility than to have to stay here longer than necessary when licensed and regulated disposal facilities are available that routinely dispose of similar waste,” Shore said during The Saturday press conference in Eastern Palestine. “At the same time, I know that there are people in other states with concerns, legitimate concerns, about how this waste is transported and how it is disposed of.”

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