DEER PARK, Texas (AP) — Toxic sewage used to put out a fire following a train derailment in Ohio is heading to a Houston suburb for disposal.
“I and my office heard today that ‘fire water’ from East Palestine, Ohio, train derailments is scheduled to be drained in our county,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement Wednesday.
“Our Harris County Pollution Control Department and Harris County Attorney’s have contacted the company and the Environmental Protection Agency to receive more information,” Hidalgo wrote.
The wastewater is sent to Texas Molecular, which injects hazardous waste into the ground for disposal.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told KTRK-TV that Texas Molecular is “authorized to accept and manage a variety of waste streams, including vinyl chloride, as part of their…hazardous waste permit and underground injection control permit .”
The company told KHOU-TV it has experience managing this kind of removal.
“Our technology safely removes hazardous components from the biosphere. We are part of the solution to reduce risk and protect the environment, whether in our local area or other places that need the capabilities we provide to protect the environment,” the company said.
The fiery derailment on Feb. 3 in Ohio prompted evacuations when toxic chemicals were burned after being released from five derailed vinyl chloride tank cars that threatened to explode.
“It’s … very, very toxic,” said Dr. George Guillen, the executive director of the Environmental Institute of Houston, but the risk to the public is minimal.
“This injection is usually 4,000 or 5,000 feet below any kind of drinking water aquifer in some cases,” said Guillen, who is also a professor of biology and environmental sciences at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Both Guillen and Deer Park resident Tammy Baxter said their biggest concerns are transporting the chemicals more than 1,200 miles from eastern Palestine, Ohio; to Deer Park, Texas.
“There has to be a closer injection into a deep well,” Baxter told KTRK. “It is foolish to put it on the road. We regularly have accidents … It is foolish to put it this far.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who visited the scene of the derailment on Thursday, has warned the railroad responsible for the derailment, Norfolk Southern, to keep its promises to clean up the mess just outside East Palestine, Ohio, and restore the city. help recover.
Buttigieg also announced a package of reforms designed to improve rail safety as regulators seek to strengthen safety rules.