The cleanup at the toxic train derailment site in East Palestine last month has stalled because Ohio is having problems locating sites to accept the 24,400 tons of excavated contaminated soil. According to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine‘s Office, only 2,980 tons have been removed so far.

DeWine said that some states with sites certified to take in hazardous materials aren’t accepting the soil. He said that refusing the soil is unfair to the residents of East Palestine, which isn’t where it belongs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously stopped shipments of toxic material heading to facilities in Michigan and Texas, greatly to the dismay of certain government representatives and environmentalists who claimed that no one gave them advance warning. Shipments resumed to new facilities in Ohio and Indiana after the EPA implemented additional oversight measures.

Most recently, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said in an interview on Sunday that he blocked tons of toxic waste from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment from storage in western Oklahoma due to “too many unanswered questions.”

According to DeWine, the hazardous waste facilities in the U.S. are more than equipped to dispose of the contaminated soil properly, and the U.S. EPA and Norfolk Southern need to authorize more sites immediately.

“I’m calling on the U.S. EPA and Norfolk Southern to identify and subsequently authorize more sites to take this waste immediately. All licensed hazardous waste facilities in the country are well equipped to dispose of this soil – and, quite frankly, much more dangerous waste – in a safe manner. It’s time to get this process moving,” DeWine said.

By requiring prior approval for all transportation and disposal of toxic soil and liquids from East Palestine, DeWine said that the U.S. EPA is allegedly slowing down the process.

“This approval is an additional step above and beyond all other applicable safety management regulations required under RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and the U.S. Department of Transportation,” DeWine said.

According to DeWine, the fact that waste removal has stalled is outrageous.

“The needs of this community are essentially getting lost in all this red tape, and piles of hazardous soil must not continue to sit stagnant in East Palestine. While I understand the steps the U.S. EPA is taking to ensure that the waste is disposed of in a safe and proper matter, the fact that waste removal has stalled is outrageous,” DeWine said.

According to the Ohio EPA, four sites have been used for solid waste disposal: Ross Incineration Services in Grafton, Ohio Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal in Michigan, and Heritage Environmental Services in Indiana. The two Ohio sites are incinerating the waste, while the out-of-state sites are placing the waste in landfills.

The news about the unremoved waste pile comes five weeks after a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, raising various concerns related to the health and safety of the locals.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Mike DeWine” by Mike DeWine. Background Photo “Norfolk Southern Train” by James St. John. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” by Moreau1.