Biden EPA to take over cleanup of toxic Ohio derailment disaster

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency will take control of the response to the Ohio train derailment disaster and order rail company Norfolk Southern to clean up the contamination, the agency said Tuesday, the Biden administration’s strongest response yet to the crisis.

Rather than clean up the toxic wreck voluntarily, as it has done so far, Norfolk Southern will be required to do so under a plan approved by the EPA, which will also take over certain aspects of the response from Ohio. Norfolk Southern will also have to pay the remediation costs — as well as pay for cleaning services that the agency will offer to residents and businesses, participate in public meetings and share information publicly, according to the EPA.

The EPA’s step comes 18 days after the Feb. 3 train crash, which released toxic chemicals and fumes over a wide area. In the two weeks since evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes, national attention on East Palestine has intensified, as many residents remain angry and fearful about potential contamination and health effects.

The plans, set to be announced by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in East Palestine on Tuesday afternoon, will give the federal government oversight of the massive cleanup through a legally binding order. Regan’s visit to East Palestine, his second in a week, comes amid pressure on the federal government from some lawmakers and residents to step up its response.

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