Wastewater from train derailment set to be disposed of at 2 Ohio sites, including 1 less that 20 miles from East Palestine
The announcement came a day after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern to “pause” shipments from the site of the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine to allow additional oversight measures about where waste was shipped. Some liquid and solid waste had already been taken to sites in Michigan and Texas.
EPA-certified facilities able to accept some of the waste had been identified, which meant shipments could restart Monday, Region 5 administrator Debra Shore, of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Sunday.
Some of the liquid waste will be sent to Waste Management’s Vickery Deepwell Hazardous Waste for disposal in an underground injection well, Shore said. Norfolk Southern will also begin shipping solid waste to an incinerator at Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool, less than 20 miles south of East Palestine. Additional solid waste disposal locations were being sought, she said.
The Ohio governor’s office said Saturday night that five of the 20 truckloads (approximately 280 tons) of hazardous solid waste had been returned to East Palestine after 15 truckloads were disposed of at a Michigan hazardous waste treatment and disposal facility. Shore said material shipped out to sites in other states, but later returned to East Palestine, would now be shipped to the two Ohio sites.
All of the rail cars except for the 11 cars held by the National Transportation Safety Board have been removed from the site, which will allow excavation of additional contaminated soil and installation of monitoring wells to check for groundwater contamination, said Anne Vogel, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
However, Monday’s resumption is now raising new concerns from environmental activists and Ohio politicians alike. River Valley Organizing, an East Liverpool-based nonprofit that “has spent years advocating for stricter regulations at Heritage Thermal,” blasted the decision to burn the toxic waste in the city.
“After poisoning one town in the region, Northfolk [sic] Southern and the EPA are now about to do the same to another community just down the road,” River Valley Organizing Executive Director Amanda Kiger said in a statement. “This is completely unsafe and unacceptable, and will only widen this crisis. The EPA and Norfolk Southern must stop further contaminating our community.”
In addition, state Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) wrote he was “very disappointed not to have received advanced notice” of the transport of wastewater to his community. He also expressed worry about the Lake Erie water basin, which WM’s Vickery disposal facility sits within.
“My task is to ensure that we do not simply relocate a problem from one side of Ohio to another, but that we actually resolve the problem,” Click remarked. “The citizens of Sandusky County deserve to have forthright and immediate answers to their questions and concerns.”