The Environmental Protection Agency announced Saturday that Norfolk Southern has been ordered to pause its removal of contaminated waste from the train derailment site in East Palestine to offsite locations.
This decision was made to ensure all aspects of the process are reviewed and approved by the EPA before moving forward.
"Until yesterday, Norfolk Southern had been solely responsible for the disposal of waste generated by the East Palestine train derailment," said Deborah Shore, regional administrator with EPA. "The one thing that's been made clear to me is that everyone wants this contamination gone from the community. They don't want to worry, and they don't want the smell. We owe it to the people of East Palestine to move it out of the community as quickly as possible."
Shore assured residents that the EPA has experience in handling the disposal of contaminated waste, from both where it needs removed and where it will be taken.
"And we know it's far better to have it safely stored in a properly constructed and monitored disposal facility than to have it remain here any longer than necessary. When there are licensed, regulated disposal facilities available that routinely dispose of similar wastes," she said.
Shore acknowledged the growing concerns of where the waste will be disposed, including in other parts of the United States.
"I know there are folks in other states with concerns, legitimate concerns about how this waste is being transported and how it will be disposed of," she said. "(The) EPA will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to use our longstanding experience and expertise in these matters to ensure the health and safety and support the Palestinian community and to hold Norfolk Southern accountable."
Additionally during in the press conference, EPA administrator Thomas Sivak announced the agency began canvassing communities affected by the train derailment, per orders from the Biden-Harris administration on Friday.
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"We see you, we hear you, and we are here to help," he said. "Over the coming days, we will continue to ramp up our outreach across the affected communities to ensure we are meeting people where they are and connecting them to the critical federal, state and local resources."
The Community Emergency Response Team for Columbiana County, led by program manager Deborah Moore, provided informational sheets with steps on how to make an appointment at the clinic if residents are experiencing systems, how to request getting well water tested and other commonly asked questions
"So these informational sheets have been hand-delivered to them personally this week by the team. We're between 300 and 400 households right now," she said.
Jill Shugart, team lead of the local efforts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said they have a 19-person multi-disciplined scientific team that is focusing on chemical exposure.
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