EAST PALESTINE —Last month, a train carrying hazardous materials derailed off the tracks in East Palestine, Ohio. The Norfolk Southern train derailed, igniting a fire emitting toxic fumes into the environment.
The chemicals released in the derailment have been reported to contaminate the surrounding air and water.
The Environmental Protection Agency responded to the scene and started to monitor the air shortly after the incident occurred. It was reported that the compounds vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate were on the train and can be damaging to people’s health.
Reports state that some residents in the area were driven out of their homes due to the dangers the hazardous chemicals posed. Some even experienced rashes, irritated eyes, nausea and other symptoms, according to reports.
Some of the toxic waste has been sent to Wayne County, Michigan to be disposed of, supposedly unbeknownst to Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans and Governor Whitmer.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) said in a report that the train company, Norfolk Southern, decided to ship the hazardous materials to Michigan before the Environmental Protection Agency stepped into manage the entire situation.
“It sounds in all intents and purposes that we were sandbagged,” Evans said in a Fox 2 Detroit report. “I don’t know how you do that without contacting local officials so that we can, number one, know how to respond to our communities and, two, to give advice about what routes to take and those sort of things. In the phone call just a few minutes ago I talked with the governor and important folks with the EPA, but to my satisfaction — and I’d like to say the governors’ office also got last-minute bits and pieces of information. They weren’t hiding anything from us. They were trying to get information just like we were.”
Dingell shared that one of the chemicals being moved to Michigan is “cancer-causing vinyl chloride” and several trucks with the substance have already made their way here.
The toxic soil and liquids ejected from the derailment were sent to the deep injection well facility at the Republic Waste Services in Romulus, according to reports.
“They told us there were five trucks that came today from Ohio that they have 99 percent water and one percent vinyl chloride. And that going forward all of it is on pause and another site is likely to be found,” Dingell said in a report.
“What I do know is that some of this material is already at the landfill,” Evans said. “I’m understanding from the EPA that some of that transport will be shut down immediately and they are going to make arrangements for some of that material to go other places.”
Plans to dispose of the waste were disclosed in a statement from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office, where it was revealed that the contaminated soil was to be relocated to the U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal in Michigan.
“The process to remove the contaminated soil from the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment began today,” a Feb. 23 statement from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency read. “Under the direction of the Ohio EPA, Norfolk Southern brought in large dump trucks to move contaminated soil to U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal, a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility in Michigan. This will be a continuous effort to properly manage and safely dispose of the waste. So far, 4,832 cubic yards of soil have been excavated from the ground and more may be removed as cleanup proceeds. When the process begins to dig up the tracks and remove the soil underneath, that soil will be hauled away immediately and taken to a proper disposal facility.”
Both Dingell and Evans said they were not warned of this prior to any materials being moved, reports state.