State Watch

Baltimore mayor rejects request to process East Palestine wastewater

FILE – A cleanup worker stands on a derailed tank car of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, continues, Feb. 15, 2023. The fire that erupted after last month’s train derailment in Ohio melted a key part of the tank cars filled with toxic chemicals, so federal officials warned railcar owners Thursday, March 2, 2023, to check their fleets for similar flaws. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott denied a request from a contractor to dump pretreated wastewater from the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year, citing public health concerns.

Clean Harbors, a waste management company, planned to bring at least 675,000 gallons of wastewater from East Palestine to the city-run Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. But Scott and other local leaders balked at the plan.

“Clean Harbors has facilities across the country that may be better positioned to dispose of the treated wastewater, and we urge them to explore those alternatives,” Scott said in a statement Monday. “Make no mistake — I stand against any efforts that could comprise the health and safety of our residents, and the environment.”

The company told CBS News on Tuesday that it had scrapped the plans to move the wastewater to Maryland after Scott denied a request for a permit. 

The Baltimore mayor said that while he feels bad for the East Palestine community, he needed to take steps to protect the city.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to the East Palestine, Ohio community as they grapple with the effects of this devastating derailment on their community, but I must remain steadfast in my commitment to protect our residents — at all costs,” Scott said.

The facility that the company planned to move the wastewater to has been under city operation since last year after a number of pollution, compliance and permitting issues. 

The denial from Baltimore to allow the wastewater to be treated in the city comes as the cleanup efforts in the aftermath of the disastrous train derailment have continued. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said that approximately 8.1 million gallons of wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine so far.

Tags Baltimore Brandon Scott East Palestine East Palestine train derailment Norfolk Southern

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