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DeWine frustrated at contaminated soil in East Palestine, as states with storage sites reject it

East Palestine soil - Ryan Loew.png
Ryan Loew
ideastream public media
Crews work at the site East Palestine train derailment on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Toxic soil excavated from the site still has not been trucked away.

The cleanup at the toxic train derailment site in East Palestine last month has stalled because Ohio is having trouble finding sites to accept more than 24,000 tons of contaminated soil. Only about 3,000 tons have been removed so far.

Gov. Mike DeWine is frustrated with that, saying some states with sites that are certified to take in hazardous materials aren’t accepting the soil. He said that’s not fair to the residents of East Palestine, which isn’t the right place for it.

“I'm going to continue to raise hell about it until we find places they're willing to take this product," DeWine said. "We've taken this product in the state of Ohio. It is no worse in fact, it's a cleaner product than what these different companies in different states are already taking. That's the great irony behind this, which makes absolutely no sense."

DeWine wouldn’t say if those states are legally allowed to reject that soil, but said he’s been on the phone with Norfolk Southern and the US Environmental Protection Agency, and that he thinks it’ll be worked out in the next few days.

Shipments of hazardous material headed to sites in Michigan and Texas were stopped by the US EPA, which implemented new oversight to continue shipments to sites in Ohio and Indiana.

The Ohio EPA reports around 6 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine.

DeWine said he'll visit East Palestine on Friday. US Sen. JD Vance (R-OH) was there Monday, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he'll visit again soon. The two have jointly sponsored a bill on rail safety with the Democratic US senators from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey and John Fetterman, and Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.