EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance called the EPA’s effort to clean up the derailment site in East Palestine “a complete disgrace.” It came during Vance’s third visit since the Feb. 3 derailment. Vance criticized the EPA for how the clean-up is being handled, especially now that the dirt under one of the re-laid tracks is being removed.
Monday afternoon at the derailment site, contaminated soil was being dug up and dumped into trucks, but it wasn’t being hauled far. In fact, right next to where the digging was taking place was a large pile of dirt, of which, one piece of machinery had to scale to get to the top.
“I think that unfortunately, a lot of the blame lies with the federal EPA refusing to properly quarterback this situation,” Vance said.
During a news conference after his visit in East Palestine, Vance was specifically critical of how the EPA was handling government officials in Michigan who he says are refusing to take East Palestine soil.
“It’s very simple. If there’s a disposal site that is willing to take the stuff and Norfolk Southern is willing to ship the stuff, that should be the end of the conversation. But because the federal EPA has stepped in and provided directive that they’re not allowed to do that, you have the slowdown of the clean-up site,” Vance said.
On Monday, Norfolk Southern released drone video of the derailment site. One set of tracks remains while the other has been removed, along with the soil underneath.
Vance says 27,000 tons of contaminated soil remains at the site and that nothing has been moved in 10 days. Norfolk Southern officials say the work will be done in 60 days, but that wasn’t what Vance said.
“I’ve been given no confidence and no assurances about when we’re actually going to get the toxic dirt out of this community,” Vance said.
Vance says facilities in Ohio are taking the soil and that Indiana is now taking it, too. He also realizes it’s a lot of dirt, but still.
“We have clean-up facilities that are meant to take the toxic dirt and yet very few of those facilities are actually taking it, and that’s a problem,” Vance said.
We tried contacting the EPA to hear what someone had to say about Vance’s criticism but have not yet heard back.