A driver hauling dioxin-contaminated soil from the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment suffered a single-vehicle crash and toppled over on Route 165 near Waterford Road, dumping its contents all over the street.
A press release from local law enforcement states that a preliminary investigation found that the commercial vehicle was traveling northbound when it "went off of the right side of the roadway, struck a ditch and utility pole, and ultimately overturned."
Inside the truck was 40,000 pounds of contaminated soil from the cleanup site in East Palestine. About half of the load spilled onto the road and the berm.
"According to the Ohio EPA, the spill was contained and not a threat to nearby waterway," the press release further revealed.
The driver of the vehicle, 74-year-old Phillip Falck, suffered minor injuries and was cited for operating a vehicle without reasonable control. The road where the incident occurred will remain closed until crews clear the site.
(Related: Did the East Palestine train wreck cause the largest dioxin plume in world history?)
According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the road spill "was contained."
Amazingly, it occurred just four miles away from the site of the crash.
Since the February 3 incident, about 19,900 tons of soil have been removed from the area where the train derailed. There remains another 17,000 tons of excavated soil that will still have to be removed – and hopefully none of that will end up all over the road somewhere else in a wreck.
Because the region is rainy, workers are constantly having to move displaced soil and water back near the containment site for later removal. They are using pumps to try to keep the contaminated water and soil from going downstream or impacting wetlands.
Authorities are insistent that other waterways are not threatened in any way by the contamination, but environmental activists and local residents worry that this might not be true.
"It's not acceptable," said Joanne Cusick, a 52-year-old resident of Youngstown, Ohio, whose daughter lives near East Palestine. Cusick and many others worry that contamination from the disaster will impact drinking water, soil, and agriculture for years to come.
"I know there's really no other way, but they should be a little more cautious ... This is hazardous waste. It should be handled as such," she added. "You're transporting it – anything could happen."
Tammy Tsai, another resident of East Palestine, said that she believes the cleanup efforts are being mishandled. She and her husband have expressed outrage over the government's response to the incident.
"They just tell us everything's fine," Tsai is quoted as saying. "No one will answer our questions."
According to the local EPA, excavation efforts at the site of the derailment are nearly complete on the south track. That same track, however, will need to be rebuilt before workers can start to work on the north track.
How long this will all take remains unknown, but it seems as though it might take a very long while.
Contaminated materials from the site are being hauled away to other states like Texas, Maryland, and Indiana that are expressing concerns about how the toxins might damage their own local environments.
In Baltimore, officials were successful in striking down efforts to dump treated runoff from East Palestine into the city's local waterways.
East Palestine is the dioxin disaster that just will not quit. To learn more, visit Pollution.news.
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