Norfolk Southern told to pause Ohio train debris removal by EPA
Bloomberg News February 26, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Norfolk Southern Corp. was ordered by federal officials to pause waste removal at the site of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment to ensure safe disposal subject to Environmental Protection Agency approval, a regional EPA administrator said on Saturday.
On Thursday, Norfolk Southern provided the EPA’s Ohio branch on with a list of sites it was using and “had been solely responsible for the disposal of waste” until the EPA told it to pause the next day, Regional Administrator Debra Shore told reporters at a briefing in the town.
“Moving forward, waste disposal plans, including disposal location and transportation routes for contaminated waste, will be subject to federal EPA review and approval,” she said. “EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and lawful manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further release of hazardous substances and impacts to communities.”
The Norfolk Southern train that derailed on Feb. 3 had about 20 cars containing chemicals including vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene, according to the EPA. Vinyl chloride is considered a carcinogen.
East Palestine residents were unnerved by a decision to vent and burn vinyl chloride in five rail cars three days after the accident, which caused an explosion and smoke plume.
The train wreck has become a political challenge for President Joe Biden, with Republicans and some Democrats saying the administration responded too slowly. Former President Donald Trump visited the town on Wednesday; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled there the next day.
Biden defended the administration’s response on Friday, while saying he doesn’t plan to visit East Palestine.
“We’re doing all we can,” he said. “The idea that we’re not engaged is just simply not there.”
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