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Gov. Holcomb says East Palestine waste doesn't contain harmful dioxin levels

Train Derailment Ohio-Railroad Safety
Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 17:51:29-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb says third party testing of toxic waste brought to a Putnam County landfill from Ohio does not contain any harmful levels of dioxins when compared to acceptable levels established by the EPA.

Holcomb ordered the testingafter tons of waste arrived at the landfill near Roachdale. He also says the landfill site operator is lawfully permitted to dispose of the waste at the site.

You can read Holcomb's full Wednesday statement below.

“Pace Labs has completed and shared the full results of their third-party dioxin testing I had ordered and expedited last week. Initial samples were taken on Saturday morning, March 4, and testing began that same day at their Minneapolis laboratory.

These results indicate that the material tested does not contain any harmful levels of dioxins when compared to acceptable levels established by the EPA. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that the site operator is lawfully permitted to dispose of that material at its site. We have informed the EPA and the site operator of these testing results.

We will have Pace Labs continue to test samples of any future loads that may arrive in Indiana from East Palestine to confirm that none of the material contains harmful levels of dioxins."

You can read the test results and get more information from IDEM here.

On Tuesday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to pause further shipments of hazardous waste.

Heritage Environmental Services, the company that owns the landfill, says it received around 34 shipments of toxic waste before it was halted.

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

Holcomb's comment about Heritage Environmental's permit was echoed by Congressman Jim Baird in a Tuesday interview with WRTV.

"I have every confidence that Heritage Environmental can handle this, it's a normal process for them," Baird told WRTV's Nicole Griffin. "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."

A group of professors and researchers from Purdue Universityare also testing samples from the Ohio train derailment.

The group doesn't believe adequate testing is being done in East Palestine, so they're voluntarily testing soil and water samples to get a better understanding of what toxic chemicals are present.

Last week, Heritage held a town hall attended by hundreds of residents to address concerns.

The company says they offered to take the chemicals for disposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of their ability to handle the waste.

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

"Every day when we receive material in, we will open up section into landfill. We will dump that material in. We compact it and then at the end of the day, we bring clean soil in and cover it every day so it's never exposed to the environment," Facility Manager Eric Chris told WRTV.

The company assures residents in the area that they have strict federal guidelines in place and are capable to handle the loads.

Heritage Environmental Services tells WRTV it reached out to the EPA and signed a contract to receive this waste.

WRTV filed a public records request to find out the length of the contract, how much money the company is making and what testing was done before it was shipped.

The Putnam County Health Department encourages those with concerns to reach out to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the EPA.