Railroad Told To Halt Waste Pickup in Ohio

Norfolk Southern Railroad has been moving contaminated soil out of the area for disposal in other states since the February 3 incident in East Palestine, Ohio. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now ordered it to halt operations, claiming that the corporation cannot transport hazardous goods between states.

A Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine on February 3, and three days later, the railroad burnt off five tank cars of vinyl chloride to prevent an explosion. It has been cleaning up the catastrophe site since then, removing toxic soil as well as millions of gallons of firefighting water. Nevertheless, on February 24, the EPA ordered the corporation to stop exporting waste outside of the state without prior consent from the federal government.

Because other states complained about rubbish being shipped into their territories, the EPA stepped in. Authorities in Michigan and Texas claim they were not informed of the shipments. Half a million gallons of water had already been transferred to a disposal site in Harris County, Texas; according to one local judge, Lina Hidalgo, “we were told yesterday the materials were coming only to learn today they’ve been here for a week.”

Fifteen truckloads of toxic soil were carried to Belleville, Michigan, without full disclosure, according to state inspectors.

According to EPA regional administrator Debra Shore, Norfolk Southern appears to have followed federal waste transport standards. She did say, however, that the EPA “did hear from residents who were concerned,” therefore the agency is looking into long-distance shipments.

The EPA approved Norfolk Southern to resume shipments to two trash disposal sites in Ohio on February 27, and Shore says two more — one in Ohio and one in Indiana — can also receive waste from the East Palestine location.

Meanwhile, the EPA maintains that there is no serious contamination of East Palestine’s air and water. People are continuing reporting complaints, and more monitoring wells are set to be drilled this week to check for pollution in the groundwater.




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