EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – The removal of new railroad tracks and ties in East Palestine began on Friday. It’s the first step in the process to remove the contaminated soil underneath.
It wasn’t until late morning that we were actually able to confirm the removal work of the tracks was taking place. It came from Ohio EPA media relations manager James Lee. He said in an email that the “tracks and ties are expected to be removed today from the site of the derailment.”
A Norfolk Southern train passed through the area on Friday, but we did not see anyone removing any track. It was raining hard though, which could have affected some of the work being done. Some people were seen around the derailment site though.
According to a Norfolk Southern spokesman, they will be handing out video of the tracks being removed, but so far, we’ve received none.
Several burned-out tank cars on the side of the tracks can still be seen. They remain because lawyers who have filed lawsuits wanted a chance to examine them before they were removed.
The Ohio EPA said it is possible that people in the area could smell odors as the soil from the derailment site is moved.
“Odors from the chemicals involved in the derailment can be strong at levels much lower than what is considered harmful to health,” Lee said.
The Ohio EPA is overseeing operations as tracks and ties are removed from the derailment site in preparation to excavate the soil underneath.
Norfolk Southern will pull up 1,900 feet of rail on both sets of tracks.
The plan submitted by Norfolk Southern and agreed on by state and federal authorities overseeing the remediation process indicates the entire removal of tracks, excavation of soil and reconstruction of the rails should be complete by April 30.
Air monitoring by the U.S. EPA is ongoing and, to date, has shown no detections of harmful levels in the community of East Palestine.
- Begin preparation for the removal and excavation of the first rail line.
- Install and begin sampling shallow groundwater monitoring wells near the site.
- Continue active soil sampling around the site.
- Continue evaluating sediment and sampling in Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, and Bull Creek.
- Continue to excavate soil on the site.
- Continue surface water sampling, while monitoring and aerating the streams.
- Evaluate the stormwater infrastructure around the site.
- Continue the disposal of impacted water at an approved disposal facility.
- Begin shipping impacted soil to an approved disposal facility.
Patty Coller contributed to this report.