U.S. states cannot block hazardous waste from Ohio derailment: EPA



U.S. states cannot block shipments of hazardous waste from a February 3 Ohio train derailment to licensed disposal sites, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan's warning came after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said earlier this week he had blocked a shipment of hazardous waste from the derailment to a facility in his state.

Regan told reporters he sent letters to all states warning "any attempts to impede interstate shipments of hazardous waste threatens the integrity of the system." He said the Oklahoma site has a permit to receive the waste.

"EPA will take all actions to ensure the safe hazardous waste handing continues across this country," he told reporters. "We expect Norfolk Southern to execute and implements its contracts and hold contractees accountable for receipt of this waste."

The derailment of the Norfolk Southern operated train in East Palestine, Ohio, has shone a spotlight on railroad safety as residents worry about the health impacts of living near the toxic material.

Ohio this week filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern to make sure it pays for the cleanup and environmental and economic damage along with groundwater and soil monitoring in the years ahead.

Norfolk Southern has said it is committed to cleaning up the site and helping the community recover.

Many residents remain worried about what they might have been exposed to and how it will affect the area in the future. Government officials say tests over the past month haven’t found dangerous levels of chemicals in the air or water in the area.

The cleanup should be completed in about three months, Regan said on Friday.