Norfolk Southern, the company behind the derailment of 38 train cars in the northeastern Ohio town that led to an environmental disaster, "had been responsible for relocating the waste," reported The Hill. The plan involved moving the waste to facilities in Michigan and Texas.
According to the office of Gov. Mike DeWine, 15 truckloads of contaminated soil had already been transported out of Ohio to a hazardous waste facility in Michigan, and others were trucked to a Texas facility. However, officials from those states pushed back on this plan last week, saying that it wasn't run by them beforehand.
Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan, who represents a district where waste was to be transported, said in a statement, "We were not given a heads up on this reported action. Our priority is to always keep the people we represent safe."
This prompted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in, with the agency's Region 5 administrator announcing the pause on the relocation process.
As the Associated Press reports, Debra Shore of the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to "pause" the shipments from the site of the February 3 disaster, but said that the removal will resume "very soon."
"Everyone wants this contamination gone from the community. They don't want the worry, and they don't want the smell, and we owe it to the people of East Palestine to move it out of the community as quickly as possible," she said, adding that any relocation efforts will have to be approved by the EPA first.
"EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and lawful manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further release of hazardous substances and impacts to communities," Shore added.
DeWine's office said on Saturday night that five truckloads which had been on their way out of the state have been returned to East Palestine, according to NBC 4.
During a Sunday press conference in East Palestine, Shore announced that the EPA conducted 578 home-reentry screenings that day and "continues air monitoring at 15 stations within the community."
She also added that residential and outdoor air screenings have proved that the air quality is uncontaminated.
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