U.S. EPA releases report on agency's response to East Palestine derailment so far
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report dated October 20 detailing the agency's response to the February 3 train derailment that left a lasting impact on the village.
The report was released in response to an executive order from President Joe Biden on September 20 directing the agency to submit a report within the next month detailing its cleanup records and compliance with Norfolk Southern's compliance with the agency's orders.
In addition to detailing the derailment response thus far, the report gives details on the remaining timeline of cleanup efforts and states that progress will be reported to the White House every 60 days until all work has concluded.
According to the report, the EPA's health and safety plan will continue until the project's end. The EPA anticipates that Norfolk Southern will have a presence on site through much of 2024 finalizing restoration and study activities.
Additionally, the air monitoring program was planned to remain in place until the end of the soil excavation process. Now that the process is over, air monitoring and sampling is expected to be reduced to to normal air monitoring for environmental assessment and worker protection.
Now that the soil excavation process is over, restoration of the area of excavation and support areas is expected to be completed by the end of January 2024.
Meanwhile, cleaning of structure interiors that may have been impacted by dust generated by the excavation process is currently ongoing and is expected to be completed later in November.
In addition a vapor intrusion study of several commercial buildings near the derailment site is currently underway and samples will be collected each quarter to complete the study, which is expected to be completed by August 2024.
Additionally, a full sitewide sampling assessment is underway to verify that all soil contamination has been removed. This effort will require the collection of several thousand samples to be analyzed at an offsite laboratory.
Sampling and review of the collected data is expected to last through July of 2024.
Meanwhile, sampling of potable water, groundwater wells and sentinel wells is still underway and the sampling is scheduled to be completed by December of 2023. The analysis of the results is expected to be completed the following month.
The results will determine if sampling efforts are complete or need to continue.
Treatment of wastewater generated or captured on site is ongoing and is expected to last through January of 2024. This may be extended if derailment-related contaminants are found in the ongoing assessment.
Finally, a Community Impact Mitigation Plan is being finalized and will incorporate response mitigation measures already conducted by Norfolk Southern and any further proposed actions. There is currently no projected end point for this activity.