The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a slow-down on Norfolk Southern’s plans to dispose of waste from the site of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment until it can review the process.
The EPA says Norfolk Southern had previously been responsible for plans to dispose of toxic waste related to the derailment, but the EPA has taken over that process. Officials in Michigan and Texas have complained after receiving shipments of toxic waste with little warning to local officials.
“EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and lawful manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further release of hazardous substances and impacts to communities,” the agency said in a statement, according to the New York Post.
It added that plans “will be subject to EPA review and approval moving forward.”
Roughly 2 million gallons of firefighting water is expected to be delivered to Harris County, Texas in the coming weeks for disposal. About half a million gallons have already been shipped to the county, leading to frustration from local officials.
“It’s a very real problem; we were told yesterday the materials were coming only to learn today they’ve been here for a week,” Judge Lina Hidalgo told CNN last week.
President Biden’s administration has faced heavy criticism for its handling of the Ohio derailment in recent weeks, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg personally visiting the site last week. Many critics argued the visit came too late, however, with nearly three weeks passing since the Feb. 3 crash.
Buttigieg himself admitted he waited too long to respond publicly when speaking to reporters in Ohio last week.
“The answer to your question is yes,” Buttigieg said, acknowledging that letting a week and a half go by before tweeting about the train derailment was too long. He told reporters he had tried to “balance” his desire to get involved with the “norm of transportation secretaries” — which is to permit the proper regulatory authorities to work without his interference.
“I felt strongly about this and could have expressed that sooner,” the secretary continued. “Again, I was taking pains to respect the role that I have and the role that I don’t have, but that should not have stopped me from weighing in about how I felt about what was happening to this community.”
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report