EPA Administrator Michael Regan ordered state authorities to stop blocking toxic chemical shipments from the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio.
Local and state authorities previously evacuated all citizens within one mile of the February 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and started a controlled burn of chemicals on the vehicle to decrease the risk of an explosion. Vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, was emitted during the burn from five train cars in the form of massive plumes of black smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Officials from the EPA previously attempted to move the toxic waste to facilities throughout the nation, including a landfill in Roachdale, Indiana, and a waste management facility in Waynoka, Oklahoma, according to local media reports. The former site is more than 400 miles away from East Palestine, while the latter is nearly 1,200 miles away from the rust belt community.
Governor Eric Holcomb (R-IN) said last month he learned “third-hand” that toxic materials would be transported to his state and contended that they should be transported to “the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana.” Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) likewise said on Sunday that he had worked with lawmakers to prevent the material from coming to his state. “There are too many unanswered questions and ultimately I made the decision that this is not in the best interest of Oklahomans,” Stitt commented. “As of late last night that shipment has been blocked.”
Regan revealed on Friday that he issued notices demanding that state authorities accept the shipments. “No one should impede or prevent this cleanup as we return East Palestine to the beautiful community residents know it to be,” he announced on social media. “The residents of East Palestine should expect that states, private companies, and the federal government will work together to effectuate the swift cleanup they deserve.”
Citizens of East Palestine have voiced frustration over the lack of transparency from government officials and executives from Norfolk Southern, especially with respect to the purported clean bill of health they granted the community’s air and water supplies. Many residents, as well as a team of journalists and producers from The Daily Wire who recently visited East Palestine, have reported sore throats and various respiratory complications.
Analysts from Texas A&M University and Carnegie Mellon University announced last month that nine chemicals the EPA said were present on the derailed train now have higher concentrations than normal in East Palestine. Texas A&M Superfund Research Center Director Ivan Rusyn told The Daily Wire that environmental officials have not provided “the full context into which the actual data collected by them could be placed,” particularly with respect to the long-term health risks posed by exposure to some of the chemicals.
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The EPA has directed Norfolk Southern to sample for dioxins, particles invisible to the human eye which can attach to soil particles and last in an environment for decades. The substances are “highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones,” according to a fact sheet from the EPA.