(J.D. Davidson, The Center Square) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered states with approved and available toxic waste facilities to accept materials transported from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
The move, announced by EPA director Michael Regan at a news conference Friday morning, comes after governors in Oklahoma, Michigan and other states have recently turned away shipments.
The EPA also ordered Norfolk Southern to move faster to get the toxic waste out of the area.
“We believe Norfolk Southern could be moving faster to remove contaminated soil from East Palestine. We are also concerned that other states are prohibiting waste from being disposed of in their states,” Regan said. “The people of East Palestine are being hurt, and the EPA will not stand for it.”
It also comes two days after Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, called on the Biden administration to do more to remove waste from the small village on the Ohio–Pennsylvania border that continues to struggle from a Norfolk Southern train derailment that released toxic chemicals into the air, water and ground.
“Why is this toxic amount of dirt still here in the first place, thousands and thousands of pounds of it? The reason is because the Biden administration and the EPA is making it harder to get this stuff into licensed facilities where it can be properly disposed of,” Vance said in a news release. “You have to get this stuff out of East Palestine and get it in properly licenses facilities or its going to continue to poison this community.”
The two new EPA orders requires Norfolk Southern to speed up the removal process and requires contractors to take legal action against EPA-licensed disposal facilities that refuse to honor their contracts.
Every state has been notified that states cannot stop shipments of out-of-state waste from East Palestine, Regan said.
“Any interference with the movement of hazardous waste materials raises concerns under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution,” Regan said. “There is nothing special or out-of-the-ordinary about this waste other than the fact that it comes from a town that suffered deeply from trauma. All states that have appropriate and available facilities must provide access to those sites.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb had the waste heading to an Indiana facility independently tested. Those tests showed the waste was clear for disposal in Indiana.
Regan said he expects the cleanup to finished within three months, depending on weather and other factors. As of Thursday, he said about half of the toxic waste has been removed.