Baltimore To Receive Ohio Train Derailment Wastewater; City Officials Apprehensive

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/27/2023
A Baltimore municipal councilman is attempting to prevent the delivery of thousands of gallons of polluted water to the Baltimore region. Norfolk Southern wants to bring part of the tainted water to Baltimore for treatment after a train derailed and exploded in East Palestine, Ohio, last month, contaminating the water and land.

Councilman Ezekiel Cohen of Baltimore will present a resolution requesting that the EPA revoke its consent to Norfolk Southern's intention to have 675,000 gallons of that contaminated water treated in Maryland. It would fill at least 19 railroad tank cars with water.


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

"The EPA has correctly devoted itself to environmental justice under the Biden administration. This is their time to demonstrate that commitment by overturning the plan's approval, according to Cohen.

Norfolk Southern will transfer that water to Clean Harbors, a treatment plant in Baltimore on Russell Street close to the I-95/I-295 interchange, as part of the cleanup effort in East Palestine.

The treated water would next be processed and discharged at the Back River Waste Water treatment facility.

Some people might be curious as to why Baltimore is receiving the tainted water. According to the EPA, Norfolk Southern is in charge of the cleanup, including identifying suitable sites for treatment and disposal and negotiating directly with those companies.

The EPA analyzes and approves the treatment facilities to make sure they are properly permitted and compliant to ensure the environment and public health are protected, according to a statement from officials. The material from the derailment is being used by a number of sites across the US.

Councilman Ezekiel Cohen wants the EPA to withdraw its clearance of Norfolk Southern bringing the tainted water to Baltimore even if Maryland isn't the only place to get it.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott stated at a press conference last Friday that they want to make sure that if this is going to happen, it will be done safely.

Our teams will work together with the mayor's team to ask as many questions as we can to urge for enough oversight and testing, as well as for the public to have as much information as possible, Olszewski added.

The Back Water Treatment Plant was selected by the EPA and MDE because it can handle their pre-treated effluent, Scott said. Two delegates call on Governor Wes Moore to intervene and halt the plan while Cohen introduces his motion opposing the idea to treat the water in Baltimore.

To stop Maryland from turning like Ohio's toxic waste dump, Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki, representatives for Baltimore County District 7A, said they want to introduce emergency legislation.

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