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Heritage Environmental Services host town hall after toxic waste arrives in Putnam County

russellville toxic waste meeting
Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 23:31:21-05

PUTNAM COUNTY — Heritage Environmental Services hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday, days after offering to take contaminated waste from the site of a fiery train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

According to Heritage Environmental Services, they offered to take the chemicals for disposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of their ability to handle the waste.

The company says three truckloads of contaminated soil have already been moved to the landfill and more will arrive Thursday. Heritage Environmental says there is no liquid in the soil.

The landfill that has a Roachdale address, but is a few miles outside of town.


Hundreds of people filled the Russellville Community Center for the town hall, which a WRTV crew described as very tense with frequent arguments.

"We are fighting for our lives, for our children's lives, for the environment's life," Putnam County resident Tiffany Bell said.

Heritage Environmental said at the town hall that the soil contains trace amounts of some contaminants, including vinyl chloride, a colorless gas, and butyl acrylate, which is used in paint and caulk. According to the National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride is used to make PVC and as a combustion product in tobacco smoke.

"You can't just let this material just sit on the ground and disperse itself. It has to be gathered up, it has to go somewhere," Putnam County resident Ron Moore said.

The company says all of the contaminant levels are well below the limits that they're allowed to accept at the landfill.

For example, the limit on vinyl chloride is 6 points per million. The contaminated soil was tested and showed .033 points per million

The decision to accept the waste was objected by Gov. Eric Holcomb and was a surprise to the Putnam County Health Department.

READ MORE: Putnam Co. landfill owners say they offered to take hazardous waste from Ohio train derailment

On Wednesday, Senator Mike Braun and Congressman Jim Baird sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan asking for answers about why the materials are coming to Indiana.

The letter includes several questions for Regan, including questions about on-site testing for the contaminated materials in East Palestine before they are moved.

Holcomb has also requested a meeting with Regan and "continues to object" to the EPA administrator's decision.

No injuries were reported when the trail derailment occurred three weeks ago. With the potential for explosion, toxic chemicals were released in a controlled environment at the scene.