PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind.– Hazardous waste from an Ohio train derailment is going through its final tests before making its way to an Indiana landfill.
Officials in Putnam County confirm the materials could begin arriving this week. Some residents in Putnam County are concerned about toxic waste from the East Palestine train derailment being moved to their backyard.
“I am so sorry for those people, but we don’t want to move that here,” said Dawn Eaker, who lives in the area.
“They don’t have any clue what the long-term effects could be,” said Shiloh Worth, who grew up in Putnam County.
Ali Alavi, a spokesperson for Heritage Environmental, which owns the landfill, says it poses no risk to residents.
“For us, it’s our everyday business even though the event that generated it, in this case, was something out of the ordinary,” Alavi said.
If approved, the contaminated waste will be sent to the Heritage Environmental landfill, just east of Russellville. The landfill facility manager says 2,000 tons of contaminated soil will be brought to the facility and stored in specialized containers.
“The system itself is a double-lined system with leak detection in between each layer of protective liner,” said Eric Chris. “Any rain or materials that would percolate through would be collected on-site and shipped off to be disposed of at another facility.”
The Russellville landfill is only getting a fraction of the amount of toxic material it is qualified to receive.
“One cup per million is the equivalent of one cup in an Olympic-size swimming pool, just to give you some context,” Alavi said.
Multiple landfills around the country will receive the toxic material from the site. Officials say the soil contains low levels of butyryl acolyte and extremely low levels of vinyl chloride — which can be found in commercial caulk and paint.
Putnam County Commissioner David Barry, who oversees the district in which the landfill is in, says he understands why community members are concerned but says it will be safe.
“This is something new, they are kind of scared,” Berry said. “I was comfortable with that material coming here knowing it’s going to be handled properly, instead of it laying in a ditch and percolating into the ground and leading to somebody’s water. It won’t do that here.”
Still, residents are worried about the long-term effects.
“We don’t know, what if it leaks into the water?” Worth asked. “If it makes all that land out there everyone has owned for generations worthless?”
The Environmental Protection Agency has been steadily testing air, water and soil quality in Ohio following the derailment. The agency said testing has not yet shown anything of concern.