EPA Orders States To Accept East Palestine Waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered states with approved and available toxic waste facilities to accept materials from the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio. EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the decision at a news conference on Friday, stressing the need for states to cooperate in addressing the hazardous waste issue.

The train derailment in East Palestine resulted in the release of toxic chemicals into the air, water, and ground. Six weeks after the incident, tons of contaminated materials remain in the area as several states, including Oklahoma, Michigan, and Texas, have refused to accept the waste shipments. EPA’s move comes in response to growing concerns over the slow pace of cleanup efforts and the unwillingness of some states to cooperate.

The EPA has also ordered Norfolk Southern, the company responsible for the train derailment, to expedite the removal of toxic waste from East Palestine. In addition, contractors must take legal action against EPA-licensed disposal facilities that refuse to honor their contracts.

Regan cited the Constitution’s Commerce Clause in his announcement, emphasizing that there is nothing unique about the waste from East Palestine, aside from its origin in a town that has suffered significant trauma. He called for all states with appropriate and available facilities to provide access for the disposal of this waste.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) had waste bound for an Indiana facility independently tested, with results indicating that the waste was safe for disposal in the state. Regan expects the cleanup to be completed within three months, depending on weather and other factors, with around half of the toxic waste removed as of last Thursday.

The EPA could consider refusal by states to accept the contaminated waste as violating the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by impeding Norfolk Southern’s ability to comply with the agency’s order.

The United States is home to 218 hazardous waste management facilities, all of which routinely receive out-of-state contaminated materials. The EPA oversees the federal hazardous waste management system, specifically designed to safely transport and dispose of dangerous materials at these sites.

Despite the strict regulations and extensive testing conducted on the waste from East Palestine, several state officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to ship the contaminated materials to their states. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has expressed frustration with the pace of cleanup efforts and the reluctance of states and facilities to accept waste from East Palestine.