Firefighting wastewater from an Ohio railway crash is being shipped to a Houston suburb for disposal. “I and my office heard today that ‘firefighting water’ from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment is slated to be disposed of in our county,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a remark on the matter on Wednesday.
“Our Harris County Pollution Control Department and Harris County Attorney have reached out to the company and the Environmental Protection Agency to receive more information,” Hidalgo wrote.
For disposal, the wastewater is being piped to Texas Molecular, which uses a ground injection to dispose of hazardous material. According to KTRK-TV, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has confirmed that Texas Molecular
“Is authorized to accept and manage a variety of waste streams, including vinyl chloride, as part of their … hazardous waste permit and underground injection control permit.”
KHOU-TV was assured by the company that they are proficient in handling such disposals.
“Our technology safely removes hazardous constituents from the biosphere. We are part of the solution to reduce risk and protect the environment, whether in our local area or other places that need the capabilities we offer to protect the environment,” the company said.
In Ohio on February 3rd, five derailed tanker rail cars containing vinyl chloride caused evacuations after dangerous chemicals were discharged during the fire. Environmental Institute of Houston director and physician Dr. George Guillen characterized it as “It’s … very, very toxic,” although he emphasized that the public was not in any immediate danger.
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“This injection, in some cases, is usually 4,000 or 5,000 feet down below any kind of drinking water aquifer,” explained Guillen, a professor of biology and environmental science at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
To both Guillen and fellow Deer Park resident Tammy Baxter, the long distance the chemicals must travel from East Palestine, Ohio to Deer Park, Texas is a major source of anxiety. “There has to be a closer deep well injection,” Baxter said KTRK. “It’s foolish to put it on the roadway. We have accidents on a regular basis … It is silly to move it that far.”
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the crash site and issued a warning to Norfolk Southern, the railroad responsible for the derailment, to clean up the damage and assist the town of East Palestine, Ohio in its recovery. Although authorities work to tighten safety laws, Buttigieg has unveiled a set of proposals aimed at making trains safer.