Citing lack of communication from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies, Judge Lina Hidalgo indicated that half a million gallons of toxic wastewater from East Palestine was already delivered to Texas Molecular last week. Another 1.5 million gallons will soon arrive on top of that.
At a last-minute news conference, Hidalgo indicated that she spoke with Texas Molecular and other state and federal agencies about the toxic waste delivery. According to her, there has been very little communication concerning the incoming waste.
The EPA and other agencies lack a full picture of what is going on, Hidalgo emphasized, calling this a "problem." Texas Molecular, meanwhile, is assuring Hidalgo and other local leaders that it is able to handle a project of this size safely.
(Related: Norfolk Southern, the company behind the East Palestine train derailment, is trying to buy off local residents for $1,000 a pop.)
In 2019, Texas Molecular took in runoff from the infamous ITC facility fire. Now, the company will handle potentially dioxin-tainted wastewater from East Palestine, which is to be sent to Texas by train, followed by truck for the last leg of delivery.
Some worry that another train derailment disaster is possible during these deliveries, which would add insult to injury to an already calamitous situation. Hidalgo also wonders what reactions will occur at the Texas Molecular wells once the toxins are injected as planned.
The company assured her that it is maintaining a full list of what is stored at the site. It also submitted a request to TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) to check and verify the facility's permits, though this assessment has not yet occurred.
"Why are these materials not being taken somewhere closer?" Hidalgo asked, pointing to two other sites closer to the derailment – one is located in Ohio and the other in Michigan – that could have taken the toxic load instead.
"Is there something these jurisdictions know that we don't know? To be clear there may be logistical reasons, economic reasons. Perhaps Texas Molecular outbid the Michigan facility? It doesn't mean there's something nefarious going on, but we need to know the answer."
A representative from the EPA told Eyewitness News that some of the tainted water will, in fact, go to a facility in Ohio, but that the vast majority will be sent to Deer Park, Tex.
"A total of 1,715,433 gallons of contaminated liquid has also been removed from the immediate site of the derailment. Of this, 1,133,933 gallons have been hauled off-site, with most going to Texas Molecular, a hazardous waste disposal facility in Texas," the EPA said.
"A smaller amount of waste has been directed to Vickery Environmental in Vickery, Ohio."
Locals in and around Deer Park are furious about the plan, including one Houston-area resident who told the media that it is "foolish to put it on the roadway," referring to all the chemical waste.
"We have accidents on a regular basis. Do they really want to have another contamination zone?" this person asked.
Houston's coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience also spoke out against the tainted water transfer, stating that it is "disturbed" about Harris County being used for "disposal" of the waste.
"Our county should not be a dumping ground for industry," the group added in a statement.
More of the latest news about the train derailment disaster in East Palestine and the movement of chemicals from Ohio to Texas can be found at Disaster.news.
Sources for this article include: