EPA asks states not to block hazardous waste shipments from Ohio derailment

EPA asks states not to block hazardous waste shipments from Ohio derailment

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday he is notifying states that they cannot block shipments of hazardous waste from the Feb. 3 Ohio train derailment to licensed disposal sites.

A Norfolk Southern operated train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said earlier this week that he had blocked a shipment of hazardous waste from the Ohio site to a facility in the state.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said “any attempt to curb the interstate shipment of hazardous waste threatens the integrity of the system.” He said the Oklahoma site has permits to receive waste.

Regan said he would hold Norfolk Southern fully responsible and demanded it try to enforce its agreements to dispose of contaminated material from the site.

“The EPA will take all steps to continue the safe transfer of hazardous waste across this country,” he told reporters. “We expect Norfolk Southern to enforce and enforce its contracts and hold contractors accountable for receiving this waste.”

Regan said the railroad excavated about half of the contaminated soil from the tracks and transported 6.8 million gallons of liquid waste and 5,400 tons of solid waste. Regan estimated it would take another three months to clean up the site.

“The EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the mess it created – and no one will stop or obstruct this cleanup as we return East Palestine to the residents of the beautiful community,” he said.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said the railroad is fully committed to cleaning up the site and will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee next week.

On Tuesday, the state of Ohio sued Norfolk Southern for derailment that released more than a million gallons of hazardous materials and pollutants.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Marguerita Choi)

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