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Hazardous waste shipments from Ohio train derailment resume in Indiana

Gov. Eric Holcomb previously ordered testing on the waste being dumped at a landfill in Putnam County from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.

INDIANAPOLIS — Resumed shipments of hazardous waste from an Ohio train derailment arrived in Indiana on Tuesday.

A spokesperson with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management confirmed the shipments of hazardous waste from Norfolk Southern to the Heritage Environmental landfill in Putnam County.

On March 8, Gov. Eric Holcomb released third-party testing results on the waste for dioxins, which showed the material does not contain dangerous levels of dioxins.

The hazardous waste from the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio is being dumped in a landfill in Roachdale in Putnam County, along with other locations across the country.

Pace Labs began testing soil samples from the loads of waste being delivered from Ohio on March 4, issuing their first test results four days later. 

RELATED: View the test results

Holcomb said he will continue to order testing for any future loads of hazardous waste that arrive at the landfill.

The governor issued the following statement about the test results Wednesday: 

“Pace Labs has completed and shared the full results of their third-party dioxin testing I had ordered and expedited last week. Initial samples were taken on Saturday morning, March 4, and testing began that same day at their Minneapolis laboratory.

These results indicate that the material tested does not contain any harmful levels of dioxins when compared to acceptable levels established by the EPA. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that the site operator is lawfully permitted to dispose of that material at its site. We have informed the EPA and the site operator of these testing results.

We will have Pace Labs continue to test samples of any future loads that may arrive in Indiana from East Palestine to confirm that none of the material contains harmful levels of dioxins.”

Residents still concerned

Neighbors have been anxiously awaiting the test results as trucks of toxic waste started arriving at the Roachdale landfill.

Their main concern is whether the waste contains harmful dioxins.

But now that the test results are in, some neighbors still aren't satisfied.

"There should be three independent lab tests done through separate facilities. You can make a case this is not independent, because Pace Analytics has a longtime partnership with Heritage Environmental," said Putnam County resident Rudy Guerrero.

On the other hand, Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, executive director of IU Environmental Resilience Institute at IUPUI, believes the testing was the right move.

"In this case, Indiana did the right thing. They said, 'Let's put the brakes on this for a while and make sure we understand what this stuff is," he said.

Those results came back to show the material does have dioxins, but does not contain dangerous levels of them. Filippelli said that can be a usual find.

"There are some dioxins in there, as there are in a lot of materials industrial-related. They are in a safe level to be disposed of in that facility, at least," said  Filippelli.

But Guerrero believes any level of dioxins is too high.

"There are no safe levels. This is such a deadly compound with such long-term effects that no levels are acceptable," he said.

Filippelli hopes these test results will ease some of the concerns from some neighbors in Putnam County.

"It's arrived every week anyway for years. It's standard operating procedure for the facility," said Filippelli.

Guerrero said he doesn't plan to throw in the towel just yet.

"We are going to have to survey the landscape and see what we can do. If there's nothing we can do, there's nothing we can do," he said.

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