EPA Orders Norfolk Southern to Clean up Toxic Mess From Ohio Train Derailment

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
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My colleague streiff reported on the anemic response by the Biden Administration in response to the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment and subsequent chemical burn-off in East Palestine, Ohio.

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On February 3, a 141-car Norfolk Southern train derailed in the eastern Ohio town of East Palestine. About 50 of the rail cars were damaged, including five tank cars carrying toxic and carcinogenic vinyl chloride. Safety crews vented and burned the vinyl chloride. The town was ordered evacuated, ‘Leave Now’: Hundreds of Residents Near Site of East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment Ordered to Evacuate.

To call the official response tepid would give it too much credit.

The Biden Administration has tacitly ignored this disaster, basically telling the residents that Ukraine and Nambia, Southern Africa are more important than they are. They even refused to consider it a true environmental emergency and denied FEMA relief. The Mayor of East Palestine called it a slap in the face.

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But this is worse than a slap. It’s kicking someone while they’re down, then stomping them into the ground. People cannot breathe. Animals are dying, and the water and snow is… rainbow colored?

Come on, man!

The EPA’s Administrator Michael Regan, along with the CDC and Health and Human Services apparatchiks have made appearances and publicity ops, like going to residents’ houses and pretending to down glasses of water; but any significant response has been too little, too late. Regan told the residents of East Palestine that they could return to their homes, and to, “trust the government.”

Mmmkay…

Then former President Donald J. Trump announced that he would pay a visit to East Palestine. He is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday to assess the ecological damage. This seems to have lit something on fire besides the toxic chemicals, as this news was released on Tuesday by the Associated Press:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern on Tuesday to pay for the cleanup of the East Palestine, Ohio train wreck and chemical release as federal regulators took charge of long-term recovery efforts and promised worried residents they wouldn’t be forgotten.

Speaking to reporters near the derailment site, Norfolk Southern’s CEO promised the company would do what’s necessary to ensure the long-term health of the community and become a “safer railroad.”

EPA used its authority under the federal Superfund law to order Norfolk Southern to take all available measures to clean up contaminated air and water, and also said the company would be required to reimburse the federal government for a new program to provide cleaning services for impacted residents and businesses.

“In no way, shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess they created,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed at a news conference in East Palestine. “I know this order cannot undue [sic] the nightmare that families in this town have been living with, but it will begin to deliver much-needed justice for the pain that Norfolk Southern has caused.”

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It’s amazing what naming and shaming will do. But all eyes need to continue to be focused on both Norfolk Southern and especially the EPA to ensure the cleanup is done properly and doesn’t cause even worse environmental damage than has already been caused. When it comes to the Biden Administration, incompetence leads.

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