(CNN) The federal Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Norfolk Southern to stop shipping hazardous waste from a train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, so it can review the company’s plans for disposal.
Officials in Texas and Michigan complain they received no warning from contaminated water and soil. The train derailed In East Palestine, Ohio, will be sent to their jurisdictions for disposal.
There were about 2 million gallons of firefighting water from the derailment About half a million gallons are already expected to be disposed of in Harris County, Texas, according to the county’s chief executive.
“It’s a real problem, we were told yesterday that the items are coming today only to learn they’ve been here for a week,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said Thursday.
“EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and legal manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further releases of hazardous materials and impacts to communities,” the department said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.
As of Friday, the department said Norfolk Southern was “only responsible for the disposal of waste generated by the East Palestine rail derailment,” but waste disposal plans are “subject to EPA review and approval going forward.”
CNN has reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment.
Contaminated soil from the derailment site is being transported to U.S. Ecology’s Wayne Disposal in Belleville, Michigan, Michigan’s U.S. Representative Debbie Dinkel said Friday.
He told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday that neither he nor Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer knew about the delivery of toxic waste to disposal sites in his district.
“I called everybody,” Dinkel said, “and nobody really bothered that they were coming here.”
Dingle represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District, which has two waste disposal sites.
“When I found out about this yesterday, the first call I got, I immediately assumed the governor’s office would know about it,” he said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said 4,832 cubic yards of soil had been removed from land in East Palestine and six truckloads were on their way to Michigan.
National Transportation Safety Board Initial report According to safety board chairman Jennifer Homandy, one of the cars of the train carrying the plastic pellets was found to be heated by a hot mold.
As the bearing temperature warmed, the train passed two track fault detectors that did not trigger an audible alarm message because the thermal threshold was not met at that time, Homandy explained. A third detector eventually picked up a higher temperature, but by then it was too late.
“It was 100% preventable. … There was no accident,” Homandy said during a news conference Thursday.
The Texas official learned about the shipment from the news
At a news conference Thursday, Hidalgo expressed frustration that he first learned about Wednesday’s expected water shipment from the news media — not from the government agency or Texas Molecular, the company hired to dispose of the water.
Hidalgo said Texas Molecular told his office Thursday that half a million gallons of water are already in the county and that shipments began arriving last Wednesday.
He added that while there is no legal requirement for his office to be notified, “it just doesn’t seem right.”
Texas Molecular receives water from trucks, but it’s unclear whether the trucks are used for the entire trip, Hidalgo said. The company informed his office that it receives about 30 trucks of water per day, he said.
Texas Molecular said Friday that all shipments so far have arrived by truck for the entire trip.
“Texas Molecular does not carry or select a transportation system for water,” Jimmy Bracher, vice president of sales for Texas Molecular-owned VLS Environmental Solutions, said in a statement on CNN Friday evening.
“The company that generates the waste determines/selects who ships the wastewater, and they must be DOT and EPA approved transporters,” Bracher said.
On Thursday, Texas Molecular told CNN it had been hired to dispose of hazardous water from the Ohio train derailment. The company said they are experts with more than four decades of experience in managing water safely.
Hidalgo’s office is seeking information about the disposal, including the chemical composition of the firefighting water, precautions taken and why Harris County was chosen as the site, he said.
“Now there is nothing to say that there is an accident in the traffic, they are doing this in a way that does not respect the well, there is a nefarious reason for the waterlogging. Coming here, not to the closest base,” Hidalgo said. “But it’s our job to do basic due diligence on that information.”
More than 1.7 million gallons of contaminated fluid had been removed from the immediate site of the derailment, according to a Thursday. Press release From the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. Of this, more than 1.1 million gallons of “contaminated liquid” from East Palestine has been transported off-site so far, with most going to Texas Molecular and the rest to a facility in Vickery, Ohio.
CNN has yet to hear back from an Ohio agency asking for the location of the remaining 581,500 gallons, which were “removed” but “not hauled out.”
“We learned about it through the grapevine,” says Tinkel
Wayne County, Michigan, officials have been in contact with various federal and state agencies, including the railroad company involved in the derailment since learning about the shipment of contaminated material, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said. Friday evening press conference. He said Evans County has not received a call from anyone saying this is happening.
“It just seems bad to me to do that to the citizens of Wayne County without knowing it’s coming,” Evans said.
Evans said officials don’t know if the move was “malicious or not,” but “there are disconnects.”
“We found out about it through the grapevine and then we saw Governor DeWine announce it on his platform,” Dingell said at a news conference.
According to Dingle, five trucks have been transported to the area so far, 99% with contaminated water and 1% with contaminated soil. A truck containing soil may have been brought to the area by mid-week, Dingle added.
Railway employees are not at fault, says NTSP chair
Homendi told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that the 149-car train, operated by Norfolk Southern, had three employees: an engine engineer, a conductor and a coachman all at the engine head.
So far, the investigation has found that the crew did nothing wrong before the derailment, even though the crash was “100% preventable,” he said.
The next phase of the investigation will examine the train’s wheelset and bearings and the damage caused by the derailment, the NTSP report said. Along with maintenance practices and procedures, the company will also focus on designs of tank cars and railcars.
Investigators will also review the train operator’s use of track defect detection and inspection procedures for the company’s railcars. More specifically, determining what caused the wheel bearing failure will be key to the investigation, Homandy said.