Holcomb objects to decision to ship toxic materials to Indiana landfill

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (IL file photo)

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday that he strongly objects to the EPA’s decision to transport hazardous materials from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment to a facility in western Indiana, a nearly 400-mile journey.

EPA officials said Monday that some of the contaminated chemicals from the site would be shipped to an incinerator in Grafton, Ohio, and a landfill in Roachdale, Indiana, in Putnam County.

Some of those materials have already been shipped to Michigan and Texas, but EPA officials ordered Norfolk Southern on Saturday to pause the shipments to give the agency greater oversight over them.

The Putnam County facility is able to handle the materials as it primarily deals with industrial waste, said Dave Costin, emergency management director for Putnam County.

The landfill is operated by Indianapolis-based Heritage Environmental Services.

Holcomb also decried a lack of communication from federal officials, saying he first learned about the shipment on Monday through a third party.

In response, he directed Brian Rockensuess, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and a Holcomb appointee, to reach out to the agency. Holcomb said he also made a request to speak to an EPA administrator.

“The materials should go to the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana,” Holcomb said in a written statement Tuesday.

When asked what the governor’s office could do to halt the shipment, a Holcomb spokesperson deferred to the EPA.

EPA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including what route the shipment would take.

The quickest route would be to take Interstate 70.

This story may be updated. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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