Shipment of contaminated waste from the site of a fiery train derailment earlier this month in eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line will resume Monday to two approved sites in the state, according to federal environmental authorities.
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.
The announcement came a day after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern to ‘pause’ shipments from the site of the February 3 derailment in East Palestine to allow additional oversight measures about where waste was shipped.
‘All of this is great news for the people of East Palestine and the surrounding community, because it means cleanup can continue at a rapid pace,’ she said.
Some liquid and solid waste had already been taken to sites in Michigan and Texas.
Shipment of contaminated waste from the site of a fiery train derailment earlier this month in eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line will resume Monday. Pictured: the site on February 24
The announcement came a day after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern to ‘pause’ shipments from the site of the February 3 derailment in East Palestine to allow additional oversight measures about where waste was shipped
Some of the liquid waste will be sent to a facility in Vickery, Ohio, for disposal in an underground injection well, Shore said.
Norfolk Southern will also begin shipping solid waste to an incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, and additional solid waste disposal locations were being sought, according to shore.
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.
Toxic waste from the wreckage will be sent to Vickery and Liverpool in Ohio. Two people were seen testing the pH of the water from the Leslie Run creek in East Palestine on Friday
Some liquid and solid waste had already been taken to sites in Michigan and Texas. Pictured: water from the creek being tested
Thousands of residents in East Palestine were ordered to evacuate at the time of the wreckage. Pictured: two people testing the PH of a creek near the crash site
Toxic chemicals were seen floating on the surface of Leslie Run creek on Friday, weeks after the crash
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.
No one was injured when 38 Norfolk Southern cars derailed in a fiery, mangled mess on the outskirts of town, but as fears grew about a potential explosion due to hazardous chemicals in five of the rail cars, officials evacuated the area.
They later opted to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from the tanker cars, sending flames and black smoke billowing into the sky again.
Federal and state officials have repeatedly said it’s safe for evacuated residents to return to the area and that air testing in the town and inside hundreds of homes hasn’t detected any concerning levels of contaminants.
The state says the local municipal drinking water system is safe, and bottled water is available for those with private wells.
Despite those assurances, many residents have expressed a sense of mistrust or have lingering questions about what they have been exposed to and how it will impact the future of their families and communities.
On Friday, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to go door-to-door in East Palestine, Ohio, to check on families affected by the toxic train derailment.
President Joe Biden was at a loss for words when explaining to reporters why he has yet to visit East Palestine, Ohio, three weeks after the toxic train derailment
On Friday, Biden directed employees to get to as many homes as possible by Monday. Pictured: a drone shot shows portions of the derailment
A resident displays a mannequin on their porch in East Palestine, Ohio, as cleanup from the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment continues
Under Biden’s order, teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency will visit homes.
Workers will ask how residents are doing, see what they need and connect them with appropriate resources from government and nonprofit organizations, the White House said.
The ‘walk teams’ are modeled on similar teams following hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Biden directed employees to get to as many homes as possible by Monday. Officials said the immediate goal was to visit at least 400. The president said he currently has no plans to personally visit Ohio.
Biden on Friday rejected the notion that his administration hasn’t been present in providing assistance in a bizarre exchange as he left the White House to spend the weekend at his Delaware home.
‘We were there two hours after the train went down. Two hours,’ Biden said at the White House. ‘I’ve spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and in Ohio. And so the idea that we’re not engaged is simply not there.’
But Democrats – including blundering Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg – have been accused of initially playing the disaster down.
They were embarrassed into taking it more seriously after a well-publicized visit to the site by former President Donald Trump earlier this week.
Buttigieg told reporters that if the former president — and current Republican presidential candidate — felt strongly about increased rail safety efforts, ‘one thing he could do is express support for reversing the deregulation that happened on his watch.’
Republicans are framing the incident as a moral failing at the hands of the Biden administration, noting Buttigieg’s failure to visit the site until nearly three weeks after the wreck.
The dangerous chemicals released in the East Palestine train derailment
A train carrying a wide-variety of toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3.
Some of those chemicals have since been released into the air or soil, as residents worry about the long-term health effects.
Among the chemicals released from the derailment are:
Vinyl chloride — train operator Norfolk Southern has said that 10 cars were burning vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen. It is a highly-volatile colorless gas used to create polyvinyl chloride, a plastic used in piping, cables, bottles and credit cards.
Symptoms of vinyl chloride exposure include drowsiness, headaches and dizziness. More long-term effects may include cancer and liver damage.
Hydrogen chloride — In trying to mitigate the effects of vinyl chloride, officials conducted a controlled explosion of the train cars, releasing hydrogen chloride.
The chemical is irritating and corrosive to any tissue it gets in contact with, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
Brief exposure can cause throat irritation, but exposure at higher levels can result in rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchioles, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs and even death.
Phosgene — a chemical that was also released in the controlled explosion.
Like hydrogen chloride, phosgene is an irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
Common initial symptoms include mild irritation of the eyes and throat, with some coughing, choking, nausea, occasional vomiting, headache and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
Phosgene poisoning may also cause respiratory and cardiovascular failure, low blood pressure and an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Ethylhexyl acrylate — a chemical that was carried on the train
It is a known carcinogen that can cause burning and irritation of the skin and eyes. Inhalation of the substance can also irritate the nose and throat, causing shortness of breath and coughing.
Isobutylene was also being transported on the train.
Inhalation of isobutylene can cause dizziness and drowsiness
Ethylene glycol monobutyl was another substance being transported to Pennsylvania.
It can cause irritation in the eyes, skin, nose and throat, as well as hematuria (or blood in the urine), nervous system depression, headache and vomiting.