Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan said on Friday that he expects the cleanup in East Palestine, Ohio, to take three months.
“We are absolutely laser focused on ensuring that Norfolk Southern cleans up this mess as quickly as possible. We are optimistic that the cleanup will be complete in three months,” Regan said during a conference call on Friday.
“We will continue to be transparent. We will continue to ensure that the people of East Palestine get the protection that they deserve and that Norfolk Southern will be held accountable,” the EPA administrator added.
Regan also addressed governors seeking to block hazardous waste shipments from East Palestine to facilities in their states, saying that shipping contaminated soil to other states is not “out of the ordinary,” and that a governor wanting to block these shipments is “unusual.”
“I would say that the response of some states to block potential shipment of those wastes is unusual,” he said. “We are reminding all states that any attempt to impede inter-state shipment of hazardous waste threatens the integrity of the system.”
The EPA administrator also noted that these same states “routinely receive similar waste from all around the country.”
Therefore, the EPA is putting all states “on notice,” and the government agency “will take all action to ensure that hazardous waste handling and disposal continues across the country,” Regan said.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) “stated that he would block shipments from Norfolk Southern from East Palestine to the Oklahoma facility,” Regan lamented, adding, “This is impermissible, and this is unacceptable.”
Regan concluded by urging the governors of other states to “not interfere” with the cleanup of East Palestine.