A massive recovery effort is underway in East Palestine, Ohio, after the city suffered one of the worst train derailment-turned-environmental disasters in United States history.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo revealed on Wednesday that part of the effort includes teams sending “firefighting water” used at the scene of the toxic chemical spill to be disposed of in Harris County.
“I and my office heard today that ‘firefighting water’ from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment is slated to be disposed of in our County,” Hidalgo wrote in a press release Wednesday.
According to the statement, questions remain on when the water will be disposed of, how, what is actually being transported and who will oversee the transportation to ensure safety.
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“Our Harris County Pollution Control Department and Harris County Attorney’s Office have reached out to the company and the Environmental Protection Agency to receive more information about the timing, transportation mechanisms, and contents, as well as to ensure all regulations are being met,” the Harris County judge continued.
Hidalgo also said her office is closely coordinating with Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton, Jr.
“I have communicated with Deer Park Emergency Management and Mayor Mouton and am very sensitive to the concerns that this news naturally brings to our community,” the statement read. “We will keep residents informed as we learn more.”
The statement comes as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will visit East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday, 20 days after the disastrous derailment.
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He is expected to meet with community members affected by the derailment and will be briefed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), whose investigation into the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio is ongoing.
The NTSB is expected to issue its initial findings on Thursday.
“As the Secretary said, he would go when it is appropriate and wouldn’t detract from the emergency response efforts. The Secretary is going now that the EPA has said it is moving out of the emergency response phase and transitioning to the long-term remediation phase,” a Biden administration official told Fox News Digital.
“The Environmental Protection Agency is leading the federal response to hold Norfolk Southern accountable and make the company clean up its mess. That is how it works in response to a chemical spill. The Department of Transportation will continue to do its part by helping get to the bottom of what caused the derailment and implementing rail safety measures, and we hope this sudden bipartisan support for rail safety will result in meaningful changes in Congress,” the official added.
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“At 1 p.m. Eastern, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy and Robert J. Hall, director of the NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials, will hold an on-the-record media availability at NTSB headquarters to discuss factual information from the investigation and rail safety,” the NTSB announced Wednesday.
It is not immediately clear what effect the water could have on the Deer Park community and its environment.
Former President Donald Trump visited the East Palestine area on Wednesday. He gave a speech met with community members and provided them with water bottles.
The initial derailment of the general merchandise freight train 32N took place on Feb. 3, at approximately 8:54 p.m. local time. The train was traveling along the eastbound Norfolk Southern Railway on main track 1 when approximately 38 rail cars derailed.
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The train included 20 hazardous material cars, 11 of which derailed.
NTSB is investigating the probable cause of the derailment and could issue safety recommendations to prevent future derailments, it said.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report