WASHINGTON — Today, Senator Mike Braun and Congressman Jim Baird sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan demanding answers on why a shipment of hazardous materials from the East Palestine train derailment was halted on its way to an EPA-approved facility in Michigan, and why Indiana was instead chosen.

On February 24, the EPA started shipping contaminated soil and water to a landfill facility in Michigan licensed to deal with that type of material by the EPA. Michigan Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib held a press conference that day saying they don’t want the material in their state. “No one deserves this in their backyard,” Tlaib said.

Thirty minutes later, the EPA announced they had halted the cleanup and delivery of contaminated materials to the licensed hazardous waste facility in Michigan. Five truckloads of contaminated materials were returned to East Palestine. 

On February 27, EPA announced two other facilities – one in Ohio, and one in Roachdale, IN – would begin to receive materials.

EPA said they’d notify elected officials.

Governor Eric Holcomb said in a statement on February 28 that he learned about the decision to ship the materials to Indiana “third-hand.”

The Indiana facility was the first facility outside of Ohio to receive contaminated materials after EPA exerted control over the cleanup. The Roachdale, IN facility is further away from the East Palestine site than the Michigan facility. 

“We are concerned that, rather than a matter of safety, the decision to halt the Norfolk Southern cleanup was made in response to objections from elected officials in Michigan,” Senator Braun and Congressman Baird wrote in the letter to Administrator Regan. 

The letter requests answers to the many questions regarding EPA’s decision-making, including:

  1. Exactly when did EPA decide to halt the Norfolk Southern cleanup?
  2. When EPA halted the Norfolk Southern cleanup, contaminated materials that were en route to a disposal facility were returned to East Palestine. What specific criteria were used to make this decision?
  3. In its official statements on February 25 and 26, EPA explained that each of the sites chosen by Norfolk Southern were “up to the standards” and “EPA-approved” to dispose contaminated materials. If that is the case:
    • Why did EPA halt the Norfolk Southern cleanup?
    • Why did EPA recertify the Vickery, Ohio and East Liverpool, Ohio facilities, but not the Belleville, Michigan; Romulus, Michigan; or Deer Park, Texas facilities?
  4. What on-site testing procedures are in place in East Palestine to test contaminated materials for the types and levels of contamination before they are transported to a facility for disposal? Is EPA working to preemptively test and determine that facilities are certified to process the contaminants they are being asked to process?


Senator Braun’s statement on the transfer, Tuesday: 

“I am opposed to the transfer of hazardous materials from the East Palestine train derailment into Indiana. The Biden EPA and Transportation Department have mishandled this disaster from day one. Any material from this disaster being transferred to Indiana overseen by this Biden EPA is seriously concerning. Hoosiers’ safety is my top priority.”

Congressman Baird’s statement on the transfer: 

“For over a week, this administration has failed to properly address the public safety crisis created by the train derailment in Ohio, and now they’re blindsiding neighboring states by hastily relocating hazardous materials across state lines, jeopardizing countless Americans,” said Congressman Baird. “There are very serious implications associated with the relocation of such serious carcinogens, and this administration has a responsibility to carefully weigh the safest options before making rash decisions. My responsibility is to keep my constituents safe, and I will continue to push for transparency and stand up for the safety and well-being of the Hoosiers I’m proud to represent.” 

 Read the full letter.  

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