The Environmental Protection Agency projects it will take at least three months to decontaminate the area where a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, last month, Breitbart reported. Now the question becomes what to do with the debris and soil, as many states reject accepting the waste.
"We are absolutely laser-focused on ensuring that Norfolk Southern cleans up this mess as quickly as possible," EPA administrator Michael Regan said during a conference call with reporters Friday. "We are optimistic that the cleanup will be complete in three months,” he added.
"We will continue to be transparent. We will continue to ensure that the people of East Palestine get the protection that they deserve and that Norfolk Southern will be held accountable," Regan assured reporters.
President Joe Biden's EPA seems singularly focused on getting the job done, which is a good thing for East Palestine. Yet understandably, Governors have already attempted to deny shipments of contaminated soil and debris to their states.
"At the same time, some states may have sought to block acceptance of waste from the cleanup site. Some have even taken misinformed and misguided shots at EPA in the process," Regan said, according to The Hill.
"But it’s the people of East Palestine who are being hurt, and EPA will not stand for it," he added. "Under EPA’s order to Norfolk Southern, the company is required to dispose of contaminated waste from the site properly."
The decontamination will take place under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and will deem the area a Superfund site. This means that Norfolk Southern, the railroad company responsible for the derailed trains, must pay for it.
What to do with the contaminated materials is another story, however. The railroad company will "consider all options" for the task, which Regan said means "insisting that waste disposal companies honor their contracts with Norfolk Southern pursuing legal actions to force them to do so if they do not and paying whatever it costs to protect the residents."
This also means states will be cornered into accepting the waste materials or else. "A state that blocks these waste shipments may be impeding Norfolk Southern’s ability to comply with obligations under CERCLA, as well as EPA’s order to Norfolk Southern, which is unlawful," Regan said.
"We’ve been abundantly clear with our state partners that waste from East Palestine has been subject to more testing and more analysis … than other similar waste regularly accepted at facilities nationwide.” This warning doesn't mean states won't try to keep the shipments out.
Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt already blocked a shipment of contaminated materials bound for his state. "This is impermissible, and this is unacceptable," Regan said when asked about it.
Lawmakers from other states that could be forced to take the waste have weighed in as well. Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said, "this process of dumping toxic waste in communities without prior notice to local cities and counties has to stop" in a tweet following news that the shipments could end up in Houston.
Similarly, Michigan Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell also warned about the waste ending up in their state. It seems wherever the EPA deems it necessary to dump it, lawmakers there won't be much choice in the matter.
This derailment and burn have been an unbelievable disaster for the people of East Palestine. However, it isn't right to condemn residents of another state to suffer the same consequences needlessly -- but Biden's EPA seems intent on doing it anyway.