States can’t block waste from train derailment in Ohio, says EPA chief
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said Friday that for states to block contaminated waste from a toxic train derailment in Ohio was “unconscionable.”
“It’s unconscionable and it’s unacceptable,” he said, noting that there was no reason for states to block shipments of the type of waste that certified facilities routinely handle every day.
Some states have sought to block these shipments from being sent to hazardous waste storage sites.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said last week that he had stopped derailment waste from entering his state.
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The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
In a letter to states, the agency said the blocking of shipments was likely in violation of federal law, as well as the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which the EPA says limits states’ power to stop the movement of hazardous waste.
The EPA told Norfolk Southern on Friday it expects the rail operator to take legal action if it is unable to ship the waste to certified disposal facilities.
“A state that blocks these waste shipments may impede Norfolk Southern’s ability to comply with obligations under CERCLA, as well as the EPA’s order to Norfolk Southern, which is illegal,” Regan told reporters. journalists, according to The Hill. “We have been very clear with our state partners that Eastern Palestine waste has undergone more testing and analysis…than other similar waste routinely accepted at facilities in the country.”
CERCLA, or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, provides a federal “Superfund” to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants in the environment.
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Regan also noted on Twitter Friday that post-derailment cleanup should be complete in about three months. So far, according to the EPA, crews have removed nearly 5,500 tons of contaminated soil and 7 million gallons of sewage.
“But let’s be clear: @EPA has ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the mess it has created – and no one should get in the way or prevent that cleanup as we return Eastern Palestine to the beautiful community that residents know it to be,” a- he writes. “That’s why I’ve asked my team to issue two notices: one to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and the other to EPA co-regulators across the country. These letters serve as a reminder both the company and our state partners their legal obligations in terms of waste management.”
“The people of Eastern Palestine should expect states, private companies and the federal government to work together to deliver the rapid cleanup they deserve. This is exactly what the EPA has planned to do, and we will not tolerate anything less,” Regan said.
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Previously, the EPA briefly halted removal of the contaminated waste when concerns were raised about monitoring where it was being shipped to sites in Michigan and Texas. Hazardous waste sites in Ohio and Indiana also received shipments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.