EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — The EPA says Norfolk Southern will resume shipping toxic waste from the East Palestine derailment.
The agency had ordered a pause in shipments on Saturday after material was taken to sites in Michigan and Texas. Officials there say they were not informed they were getting the delivery.
About 50 people showed up at one of those contamination sites Sunday in Romulus, Michigan.
The group protested that some of the toxic waste was now in their community. Many of them shared their concerns not just about the environmental issues, but also about the lack of communication with local officials.
“It’s where, and we haven’t been informed of the volume. We haven’t been informed of how it actually got here. Did it come by truck? Did it come by train?” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans asked.
Michigan GOP chair Kristina Karamo said she is concerned about safety measures.
“How is it being processed? What safety measures are in place to ensure that our water and air don’t get contaminated?” Karamo asked.
The contaminated water is now going to Vickery Environmental in Vickery, Ohio, an injection well about two hours away. Solid waste will be taken to Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool, Ohio.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency hosted a presser event over the weekend regarding the Feb. 3 East Palestine train derailment aftermath.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 administrator Debra Shore announced the EPA-certified facilities that will accept some of the waste removed from the derailment site.
“We owe it to East Palestine and residents nearby to move waste out of the community as quickly as possible, and that’s exactly what we are working to do,” Shore said.
To date, approximately 1.8 million gallons of liquid waste and 4,832 cubic yards of solid waste have been collected.
Shore reminded the public that the EPA and Department of Transportation are closely governing and monitoring the waste disposal process. Norfolk Southern must comply with all requirements regarding the labeling, packaging, shipping and disposal of the materials taken from the derailment site.
“These extensive requirements cover everything from waste labeling to packaging and handling, as well as requirements for shipping documents that provide information about the wastes and where they are going,” Shore said.
The US EPA is working with Norfolk Southern to find more locations for waste disposal.
Director of the Ohio EPA Anne Vogel announced that all railcars — except those 11 under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board — have been removed from the derailment site. This means the installation of contaminant monitoring wells along the railway are soon to follow.
According to a release Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, up to three wells will be drilled to determine if the ground water beneath the derailment site is contaminated, with plans for a total of 10 wells planned after the soil under the rails is completely excavated. The wells will help support a more thorough understanding of the direction and flow of groundwater in the area.
Thomas Sivak, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 5, said Beaver County, Pennsylvania, residents will also be included in resource distribution from the government.
“Over the coming days, unified coordination groups will continue to ramp up our efforts across affected communities,” Sivak said.
Sivak said that on Saturday, his agency had 49 people “on the ground” answering questions, addressing concerns and providing informational flyers to the community. He reported over 350 interactions with individuals during the day.
“I want to make it very clear: Every disaster is different,” Sivak said. “We want to hear from the impacted residents. We want to hear your concerns, your needs and your worries, and we will work with you to match you with the assistance you need.”
The officials gave updates regarding testing. Shore said the EPA is not currently conducting testing for the presence of dioxins in the atmosphere, as there are no baseline measurements for typical levels in East Palestine prior to the train derailment.
Vogel said there have been 126 private wells tested, with more to follow. Test results will be available on Columbiana County Health District’s website.
More areas with the capacity to handle the amount of solid and liquid waste are under investigation, Shore said.
Saturday’s presser revealed that the US EPA has asked Norfolk Southern to temporarily halt its transportation of waste materials from the derailment site. The railroad company had been solely responsible for the disposal of waste materials. Now, disposal sites and how contaminants are transported are subject to federal EPA review.
A new information hotline has been made available through the EPA and can be reached at 866-361-0526. The hotline is meant to provide answers to residents’ questions about water, soil and air quality testing.
Business owners in East Palestine with concerns or questions can reach out to the Ohio Department of Development at businesshelp@development.Ohio.gov for resources.
There will be pressers every day at 4 p.m. for the foreseeable future.