FRA Launches National Initiative in Response to East Palestine Derailment
East Palestine, OH – On March 1, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a national initiative for focused inspections on routes that carry high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs) and other trains carrying large volumes of hazardous material (hazmat) commodities. The initiative is part of the USDOT’s effort to ensure freight rail accountability and improve safety following the Norfolk Southern (NS) derailment that occurred on February 3 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
Since the crash, the Ohio EPA estimates that more than 4 million gallons of liquid wastewater and 1,400 tons of solid waste have been removed from the area. Approximately 319,002 gallons were hauled to U.S. Ecology Romulus, a licensed solid waste disposal facility in Michigan. Additionally, approximately 280 tons of contaminated soil have been disposed of at U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal, a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility in Michigan.
The FRA has issued a safety advisory urging railroads to review the thresholds used on hot bearing detectors “in light of recent derailments.” The agency is also deploying resources made available by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to upgrade and modernize rail infrastructure and to make safety improvements over the long-term. USDOT is also evaluating new rules that would require electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes on HHFTs and other trains transporting large quantities of hazardous materials, as well as a rule requiring two-person train crews.
Meanwhile, workers with QUICKmed Urgent Care in Columbiana, Ohio reported seeing more and more people from the East Palestine area complaining of burning sensations when they breathe, rashes, and general weakness. U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that individuals affected by the derailment have access to baseline medical testing.
The EPA announced on Monday that Norfolk Southern will commence transporting debris from the clean-up to Heritage Environmental Services, a hazardous waste dump in Roseville, Indiana. Additionally, approximately 94,372 gallons were disposed of at Vickery Environmental, a licensed solid waste disposal facility in Vickery, Ohio. The sum encompasses the liquid disposed of both before and subsequent to the halt in waste disposal that was implemented by the U.S. EPA.
0. “USDOT's Federal Railroad Administration Announces New Safety Initiative with a Focus on Hazardous Materials | US …” Department of Transportation, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/usdots-federal-railroad-administration-announces-new-safety-initiative-focus
1. “Over 4 million gallons of waste from train derailment shipped throughout Ohio, to other states” WHIO, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.whio.com/news/local/over-4-million-gallons-waste-train-derailment-shipped-throughout-ohio-other-states/LBJKI23RDFCOVE6EHF46Z3O6A4/
2. “Vickery site to store 94,000 gallons of liquid waste from E. Palestine” The News-Messenger, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.thenews-messenger.com/story/news/local/2023/02/27/vickery-site-to-store-500000-gallons-of-liquid-waste-from-east-palestine-norfolk-southern-derail/69950664007
3. “Ohio train derailment update: Waste from East Palestine to be shipped to Grafton” WKYC.com, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/special-reports/train-derailment/ohio-train-derailment-update-waste-east-palestine-taken-grafton/95-2e8e851d-fc8f-472d-a127-65b41265d220
4. “Feds pressure railroads to review detectors that might have prevented East Palestine derailment” CNN, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/28/us/train-derailment-detectors-review-east-palestine/index.html
5. “East Palestine residents experiencing unusual symptoms: ‘Chemical bronchitis’” WKBN.com, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/east-palestine-train-derailment/east-palestine-residents-experiencing-unusual-symptoms-chemical-bronchitis
6. “Grafton incineration company agrees to take solid waste from East Palestine cleanup” News 5 Cleveland WEWS, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/east-palestine-train-derailment/grafton-incineration-company-agrees-to-take-solid-waste-from-east-palestine-cleanup