Chemical disposal from Ohio train derailment causes concern: 'Not too happy about it'
Millions of gallons of chemicals and toxic wastewater are left to be discarded
HOUSTON – The 38-railcar derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, leaves millions of gallons of toxic wastewater and chemicals to be discarded.
The train company, Norfolk Southern, thought they had found a solution to the problem, but residents of Houston like Irma Portillo, along with officials, say it caught them by surprise.
"I don’t think too many people are happy about it. Maybe some people didn’t even know about it," Portillo said.
Families in Harris County, Texas, learned from news reports that millions of gallons of wastewater used to fight fire after the Feb. 3 derailment were shipped to a company near their homes.
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"I’m not too happy about it, that’s for sure. It’s a dangerous hazard because a lot of people here are elderly. It affects our way of living and our health," Portillo said.
Texas Molecular is in the Houston suburb of Deer Park, just across the interstate from Portillo's community.
In a statement to FOX Business, the wastewater facility said in part, "Our permit allows over 230 million gallons annually and this volume is well within our authorizations, capabilities and experience. While we are not required by permit to alert authorities in advance of shipments, we do brief our local stakeholders."
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However, people had concerns and say they are happy that elected officials like Democratic Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee stepped in, reasoning with the Environmental Protection Agency for a pause on discarding the chemicals.
In a tweet, Rep. Lee noted, "This process of dumping toxic waste in communities without prior notice to local cities and counties has to stop."
EPA director Michael Regan says it has been working on a solution.
"What we are doing is working on an alert system so that Norfolk Southern can be held accountable and, as its material is moving, the appropriate authority has the appropriate information so that communities are not alarmed and know that their safety has been taken seriously," Michael Regan said.
The EPA now says future plans for toxic waste must first be reviewed and approved.
People that live near Texas Molecular say this gives them relief and they hope similar change continues.
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"I think it’s good because the community needs to know. I think they should let us know," Portillo said.
The EPA has given approval for wastewater to be transported to Ohio waste facilities. Disposal will continue in Deer Park after approval from local officials.