(CNN) Angry residents repeatedly interrupted a railroad company official at a controversial town hall in East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday. The toxic train derailed Almost a month ago.
“We’re going to do the right thing, we’re going to clean up the site,” said Norfolk South Rep. Darrell Wilson. “We’re going to test until we’ve removed all the contamination.”
“No, you’re not!” A voice shouted.
Norfolk Southern, the operator of the train that derailed on the evening of February 3, has faced continued criticism from local residents, some of whom Report illnesses They believe it came from an accident.
After the derailment, the dangerous chemical vinyl chloride was released and burned to prevent a fatal explosion, and other chemicals of concern carried over are feared to have leaked into the environment in Ohio and Pennsylvania — with potentially harmful health effects. Workers are also engaged in cleaning Clinical symptoms were reportedAccording to the letter on behalf of the labor unions.
At a town hall Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency officials said plans to remediate Norfolk Southern’s site were under review that night, and EPA’s regional response coordinator Mark Turnow told CNN’s Brenda Goodman that the teams were ready to approve it.
This paved the way for the process to begin on Friday morning. EPA has Ordered a freight train Company To thoroughly clean the damaged area.
The work of removing the railway track near the derailment has started
Video from CNN’s Miguel Marquez Show The rescue began Friday about a quarter of a mile from where the derailment occurred on the southbound lanes.
This includes removing one side of the track, digging up the contaminated soil, sampling, and then replacing the tracks. The same will be done on the other side of the rail.
While work is underway on the southbound line, trains will continue to run on the northbound line, where there are still tank cars that cannot be removed until they are inspected, Wilson said.
“The sooner they pick it up, the sooner we can get it out of town,” EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore said at the town hall. “It’s going to be a complex, big project.”
Officials hope to begin the process on the northern side on March 28, Wilson said, adding that the entire process could be completed by the end of April.
Approximately 2.1 million gallons of liquid waste and approximately 1,400 tons of solid waste are already Removed from derailment, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office announced in a news release Thursday, citing the state’s EPA. Sewage and solid wastes are accumulated taken to sites Ohio and elsewhere, including Michigan, Indiana and Texas, according to the release.
“We’re very sorry for what happened. We feel terrible about it,” Wilson said — prompting a boo from the crowd.
Last week, Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted suggested that the agency temporarily or permanently relocate residents who feel unsafe.
“I think the railways should consider buying the properties of people who are unsafe or want to relocate as a result of the spill,” he told CNN on February 23. “It’s the railroad’s responsibility, it’s the government’s responsibility. Officials at the federal, state and local levels need to be held accountable by the citizens of East Palestine and do the right thing.”
In response to a resident’s question at the town hall meeting, Wilson said there was no talk of relocating residents.
“This will be an evolving conversation that will continue for some time,” he said, adding that the company will continue to collect data to inform its results.
This week, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw Sold $448,000 worth of company stock and Shaw personally set up a $445,000 scholarship fund for seniors at East Palestine High School that an unspecified number of students could use to attend college or vocational schools.
Norfolk Southern did not respond to a request for comment on the stake sale and whether Shaw plans to take a pay cut or make a donation in the wake of the crash.
Norfolk Southern must test for dioxins, EPA says
In addition to the site cleanup, the EPA requires Norfolk Southern to Test directly for the presence of dioxins — Compounds considered to have significant toxicity and cause disease. In a statement released on Thursday, the investigation will be conducted under the agency’s supervision.
If dioxins are found at levels that pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, EPA will immediately clean up the area. The EPA will also require Norfolk Southern to conduct a background study to compare any dioxin levels around East Palestine to those in other areas unaffected by the derailment.
The agency noted that dioxins can be found in the environment as a result of common processes such as burning wood or coal, and they break down slowly, so the source of dioxins found in an area may be uncertain.
The initiative comes in direct response to concerns the EPA has heard from East Palestinian residents, the statement said.
“This action builds on EPA’s bipartisan efforts with our local, state and federal partners to earn the trust of this community and ensure all residents have the assurances they need to feel safe at home again,” said EPA Administrator Michael Reagan.
As of Feb. 28, the EPA had collected at least 115 samples from the affected area, including air, soil, surface water and sediment samples, the statement said.
To date, EPA’s monitoring of indicator chemicals has suggested a low probability of dioxin release from the incident, according to the report.
CNN’s Brenda Goodman, Laura Dolan, Rob Freese, Jennifer Feldman and Selena Debor contributed to this report.