Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb denounced a plan from the Environmental Protection Agency to move chemical waste from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, to a landfill in the western portion of the Hoosier State.
Local and state authorities previously evacuated all residents within one mile of the February 3 derailment and started a controlled burn of industrial chemicals on the vehicle to decrease the risk of an explosion, which could have sent shrapnel throughout the small Ohio town. Vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, was emitted from five train cars in the form of massive plumes of black smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Officials from the EPA revealed on Monday that contaminated waste from the disaster would be transported to an incinerator in Grafton, Ohio, and a landfill in Roachdale, Indiana, according to a report from Fox 59. The former city is 103 miles from East Palestine, while the latter is 402 miles from the small rust belt community.
Holcomb revealed in a Tuesday press release that he disagrees with the decision to transport chemical waste from the disaster site on the eastern border of Ohio to the far western portion of Indiana, effectively crossing the breadth of both midwestern states.
“There has been a lack of communication with me and other Indiana officials about this decision,” Holcomb said. “After learning third-hand that materials may be transported to our state yesterday, I directed my environmental director to reach out to the agency. The materials should go to the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana.”
Holcomb added that he requested to speak with EPA Administrator Michael Regan about the decision and “what precautions will be taken in the transport and disposition of the materials.”
Norfolk Southern, the company at the center of the derailment, warned the EPA that a number of other volatile chemicals beyond vinyl chloride, including ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and ethylhexyl acrylate, were present at the site. The EPA released the full list of substances only after residents were told they could safely return to their homes.
Several state and federal agencies, including the EPA, have assured residents that “test results from the village’s municipal well sampling showed no water quality concerns.” A team of journalists and producers from The Daily Wire who visited East Palestine earlier this month nevertheless reported a lingering smell in the air, an oily chemical sheen in local creeks and rivers, and symptoms such as sore throats and headaches garnered merely by spending an extended period of time in the community.
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Researchers from Texas A&M University and Carnegie Mellon University revealed on Friday that nine of the approximately 50 chemicals that the EPA said were present on the derailed train currently have higher concentrations than normal in East Palestine. They were especially concerned with above-normal levels of acrolein, a substance with a pungent odor that is “highly toxic” when inhaled, according to a report from the CDC.
Other chemicals charted at abnormally high levels included benzene, naphthalene, and vinyl chloride. “If these levels continue, they may be of health concern,” the analysis said.