Health, Politics, Sci-Tech

Elected officials speak out after EPA selects Back River Wastewater Treatment Plan to treat wastewater from Ohio train derailment

UPDATE: Officials say the contaminated waste water from Ohio will no longer be coming to Baltimore.

Original story below…

NOTTINGHAM MD—Elected officials are speaking out after it was announced that the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant would be treating wastewater from the recent Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio.

On Friday, March 24, 2023, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works was notified by Clean Harbors Environmental Services that it was selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to accept, treat, and discharge the wastewater collected from rainwater, collected water, and stream water above and below the cleanup site of the Norfolk Southern Railroad derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that occurred on February 3rd.

City officials say the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of a number of facilities in locations around the country selected to process this material.

“Both the City and the County teams have been in touch with the Governor’s office as well as with the EPA,” reads a statement from DPW. “State and federal officials have assured us they are confident in the facility’s ability to process this material. However, we have tasked our teams to do their due diligence to be certain that there is no risk to the health and safety or our residents and our environment. Additionally, we are seeking a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the City’s requirement to treat and discharge the waste from the Norfolk Southern Railroad derailment at Back River.”

Now, local elected leaders are speaking out.

“Completely unacceptable,” said Baltimore County Fifth District Councilman David Marks on Saturday morning. “The Back River treatment plant has a long history of problems that have compromised public health and the quality of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s mind boggling that the federal government and the state not only acquiesced to this idea, but provided virtually no notice to Baltimore County.”

Delegates Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga are also speaking out about the decision.

‘There is no amount of money that could possibly pay to process the toxic cleanup waste from the chemical disaster in Ohio,” said Delegate Szeliga.

“As a member of the Environment and Transportation Committee, I have heard countless hours of testimony regarding the continual failures at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dundalk,” said Delegate Nawrocki. “This treatment plant has a history of sewage overflows. They certainly should not be trusted to process toxic waste into Maryland’s greatest natural resource.”

Next week, they say they will work with their colleagues in Annapolis to introduce emergency legislation
prohibiting Maryland from processing this waste.

Photo via Wikipedia / Kristian Bjornard

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