'I do not trust that facility': Residents voice concern to officials about Ohio train derailment waste

Local and federal leaders faced questions after toxic liquid and soil was shipped to a Metro Detroit dumping ground. The toxic waste and soil came from the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Audience members with numerous questions about their own safety before a panel of lawmakers, environmental officials and Norfolk Southern big wigs.

"How can we continue to operate such a horrible facility and trust that it’s going to protect this community?" said one woman. "Because I do not trust that facility in my neighborhood."

All of this in the aftermath of the shipped liquid to the Romulus Republic deep injection well and Van Buren location for soil that came from the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine Ohio back in early February. 

"The first responders in the communities here in Michigan like Van Buren, Romulus, Wayne, the other communities, I  want to make sure that they have all the funding that they need to respond to a problem like this," said one man.

Local members of Congress including Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib hosted the forum at the Wayne County Community College District to give information and answer questions.

They addressed the public concerns regarding the transport and storage of hazardous waste at the Republic Industrial and Energy Solutions facility in Wayne County.  

Officials from Republic addressed the crowd.

"They have begun to change the way that they process the material both in terms of time, the size and quantity, they’ve installed odor control systems - we’re now doing daily odor surveys in the community," said a representative of Republic.

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Wayne County officials as well as state leaders sounded the alarm in a Friday night press conference back in February after learning the toxic waste from the derailment was being shipped to Metro Detroit.

"We all paid a great deal of attention when Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and myself, Rashida and Shri (Thanedar), and.the governor found out that some of the East Palestine waste might be headed this way," Dingell said. "That got us asking a lot of questions."

Last month local members of Congress urged state regulators to reopen public feedback for the renewal of the operating license for Republic’s hazardous waste site in Romulus.

It’s one of many reasons why so many people are sounding off, including elected officials who are also pushing for reform at the federal level to better protect the environment during derailments - if not prevent derailments altogether.

"We’re all coming together and saying what can we do? First they halted the shipment right away but the bigger problem still remains," Tlaib said. "Hazardous waste is traveling through and into our communities with little oversight or transparency and too often the corporations responsible do cut corners or seem willing to sacrifice our residents' well-being to make a few extra bucks."

Vinyl Chloride was the chemical contained in the liquid, diluted with water when it was transported to Michigan, that is known to cause lung inflammation, and tumors and is a carcinogen. Officials say that safety mechanisms were in place for the transport.