CBS News reports that the administration of President Joe Biden has temporarily halted the cleanup that it is conducting following the recent Ohio train derailment.
Region 5 administrator Debra Shore of the Environmental Protection Agency said Saturday the agency ordered Norfolk Southern to “pause” shipments from the site of the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine but vowed that removal of the material would resume “very soon.”
This is not a good look for the Biden administration, particularly considering that it has already faced massive criticism for its lackluster response to the train derailment.
On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, releasing the chemicals into the surrounding area.
Subsequently, the town was evacuated as a controlled burn was carried out in order to try to burn away the chemicals.
The residents have since returned to East Palestine, but questions remain about the safety of the area given the release of the toxic chemicals. There have been reports from residents of a variety of health symptoms, including skin rashes.
In the meantime, Norfolk Southern has been conducting a cleanup of the chemicals. This includes removing contaminated water and soil from the area. Reports indicated that the contaminated soil and water has been shipped to areas of Michigan and Texas, apparently unbeknownst to local officials.
The Biden administration has been lagging behind in addressing the derailment.
To put things into perspective, it took some three weeks before Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg finally decided to make a trip to East Palestine. And, that was only after former President Donald Trump made his own trip to the area.
Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is joining in cleanup efforts. And, as often happens when the federal government gets involved, things have come to a standstill.
The “pause” on cleanup
EPA administrator Debra Shore announced the temporary “pause” over the weekend.
“Everyone wants this contamination gone from the community,” Shore said. “They don’t want the worry, and they don’t want the smell, and we owe it to the people of East Palestine to move it out of the community as quickly as possible.”
It appears that the “pause” has been implemented so that the EPA can take control of the cleanup. Whereas the rail company had been solely in charge of the cleanup, going forward, the EPA will lead the effort.
Shore said, “EPA will ensure that all waste is disposed of in a safe and lawful manner at EPA-certified facilities to prevent further release of hazardous substances and impacts to communities.”