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Congressman Baird requests halt of hazardous materials delivery from East Palestine in letter to IDEM

drone footage of east palestine
Posted at 2:19 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 17:08:19-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Congressman Jim Baird (R-IND) sent a letter to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) on March 3 requesting an immediate halt of the delivery of hazardous materials from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.

The letter is the second Baird has sent regarding the toxic waste. Last week, Baird and Senator Mike Braun sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan asking for answers about why the materials are coming to Indiana.

"[My constituents and I] need to understand here [in the] Russellville community what products are coming in. Now I have every confidence that Heritage Environmental can handle this, it's a normal process for them," Baird told WRTV's Nicole Griffin. "We really wanted to make sure that we were doing testing at both ends. The EPA should have been [doing testing] at the site at East Palestine, and then then we need to do it in Russellville to make sure that we're getting the analysis that's appropriate."

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began shipping contaminated soil and water to a landfill facility in Michigan on Feb. 24. The same day, Michigan officials held a press conference announcing they do not want the material in their state.

On Feb. 27, the EPA announced facilities in Ohio and Roachdale, Indiana would receive materials.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-IN) pushed back against the shipment, saying that he learned “third hand” about the transportation plans.

"You need to know what's going in that landfill, and where it's being located," Baird said. "We just want to make sure that it is transparent ... I really feel for those folks in East Palestine. And I wish that the EPA and the Department of Transportation could have been there sooner to help people understand what they were being exposed to, or not being exposed to, and how serious it was or wasn't."

The facility near Roachdale was the first facility outside of Ohio to receive the materials.

“Despite to the EPA’s promise to ‘notify elected officials and our state agency partners before approving the shipment of any waste from the derailment to their state or district’ in their announcement, the agency failed to inform Hoosier local, state, and federal elected officials about the transportation and disposal of this hazardous material in our state,” Baird wrote in his letter. “On the day of the surprise announcement, I made clear that blindsiding Hoosiers by rushing contaminated material across state lines is risky and irresponsible.”

The letter requests that all transportation and storage of contaminated material from East Palestine be halted until testing conducted by Norfolk Southern, the EPA and IDEM is done, and the results are disclosed, and both the company responsible for transporting the hazardous materials and Roachdale facility can be monitored closely in a sufficient manner.