Texas and Michigan officials have revealed that they had no knowledge of the transportation of soil and water from the East Palestine, Ohio freight train derailment site.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train transporting 50 rail cars, including 10 cars of vinyl chloride, derailed in East Palestine. The accident caused the leakage of hazardous chemicals on the ground and a release of smoke into the air.
Following the derailment, officials carried out a controlled chemical release to prevent an explosion. The residents were evacuated during the operation but were later allowed to return.
Soil and wastewater from the site of the train derailment were transported to hazardous waste firms in Texas and Michigan, and several officials say they received no prior notice.
According to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Norfolk Southern had contracted with licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities in Texas and Michigan to dispose of waste from the Ohio accident. However, several officials claimed that they were not informed of the waste transportation.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who represents part of Harris County where some of the waste was disposed of, took to Twitter on Saturday to express her disapproval of the practice, calling for an end to the dumping of hazardous waste in communities without notifying local cities and counties.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee has worked intensely with the EPA and EPA Administrator for the last few days to protect communities from toxic waste disposal. This process of dumping toxic waste in communities without prior notice to local cities and counties has to stop.
— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) February 25, 2023
According to a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Norfolk Southern was responsible for waste disposal following the East Palestine derailment, and the company provided the Ohio EPA with a list of chosen disposal facilities on February 23. The spokesperson further stated that waste transport from the derailment site is currently suspended.
In an update on Saturday, Governor DeWine’s office reported, “Of the twenty truckloads (approximately 280 tons) of hazardous solid waste hauled away from the derailment site, 15 truckloads of contaminated soil had already been disposed of at the licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Michigan. Five truckloads of contaminated soil were returned to East Palestine. The licensed hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility in Texas will dispose of liquid waste that has already been trucked out of East Palestine, but no additional liquid waste will be accepted at the Texas facility at this time.”
According to a Norfolk Southern spokesperson, the company is collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restart waste removal efforts at the East Palestine derailment site.