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Councilman seeks to stop plan to send contaminated water from Ohio train derailment to Baltimore

Councilman Zeke Cohen to introduce resolution Monday
Train Derailment Ohio-Railroad Safety
Posted at 7:53 AM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-27 09:57:59-04

BALTIMORE — Thousands of gallons of contaminated water is headed to the Baltimore area and one Baltimore city councilman is trying to stop it from happening.

After last month's train derailment and explosion in East Palestine, Ohio contaminated water and soil, Norfolk Southern wants to send some of the water to Baltimore to be treated.

Baltimore city councilman Zeke Cohen will introduce a resolution calling on the EPA to take back its approval of Norfolk Southern's plan to have 675,000 gallons of that contaminated water treated in Maryland.

It's enough water to fill at least 19 train tank cars.

RELATED: Baltimore receiving 675k gallons of wastewater from Ohio train derailment

In a statement, Cohen said “too many neighborhoods in Baltimore are already overburdened with pollution, we are at a tipping point for the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and our city’s trust in the back river facility’s ability to process this water was shaken by the March 15 explosion.”

“Under the Biden administration, the EPA has rightfully committed itself to environmental justice. Now is their chance to prove that commitment by rescinding approval of this plan,” Cohen said.

As part of the clean up plan in East Palestine, Norfolk Southern will send that water to a treatment facility called Clean Harbors, which is located on Russell Street, right by the I-95/I-295 interchange in Baltimore.

The Back River Waste Water treatment facility would then process and release the treated water.

Some may wonder why the contaminated water is being sent to Baltimore.

The EPA said Norfolk Southern is responsible for the cleanup, finding approved treatment and disposal locations as well as contracting directly with those businesses .

In a statement, officials also said “EPA reviews and approves the treatment facilities to make sure they are properly permitted and compliant to ensure the environment and public health are protected. There are several facilities throughout the US that are taking material from the derailment.”

Maryland isn't the only location scheduled to receive the contaminated but Councilman Zeke Cohen wants the EPA to rescind its approval of Norfolk Southern sending the contaminated water to Baltimore.

Meanwhile, at a press conference last Friday, Baltimore city Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said they want to ensure that if this is going to happen, that it's done safely.

“Our teams will be joining with the mayor's team to ensure that we are asking many questions as we can pushing for the public to have as much information and for there to be appropriate oversight and testing,” Olszewski said.

“We understand and know that the EPA and MDE chose the Back Water Treatment Plant because the plant can handle their pre-treated wastewater,” Scott said.

While Cohen will introduce his resolution against having the water treated in Baltimore, two delegates urge Governor Wes Moore to step in and stop the plan.

Baltimore County District 7A delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki said they plan to introduce emergency legislation to prevent Maryland from becoming Ohio's toxic waste dump.