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Contaminated wastewater from Ohio train derailment to be treated in Maryland

Contaminated wastewater from Ohio train derailment to be treated in Maryland
Contaminated wastewater from Ohio train derailment to be treated in Maryland 02:24

BALTIMORE — Toxic soil and wastewater from the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, is being transported to Maryland.

A local contractor informed the city on Thursday that they are prepared to receive 675,000 gallons of wastewater, which will be pre-treated before being sent to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said, "There is a company doing pre-treating prior to this water going into our wastewater system."

Despite concerns about treating the toxic wastewater locally, the mayor and county executive view the situation as an indication that the troubled Back River plant is on the right track. 

The city-run facility, located in Baltimore County, has been under temporary state control due to compliance and permit issues. Last week, an explosion occurred on-site at a contractor building, but no one was injured.

A joint statement from Baltimore City and Baltimore County was issued regarding the treatment of the contaminated water. 

"Both the City and the County teams have been in touch with the Governor's office as well as with the EPA," the statement said.  "State and federal officials have assured us they are confident in the facility's ability to process this material."

Mayor Scott emphasized that their responsibility lies with local residents. 

"They chose Back River (Wastewater Treatment Plant) because Back River is operating in good standing and can handle this and deals with this stuff every day, but our responsibility is first," he said. "We understand this is a national incident and tragedy, but our responsibility, first, is with the residents of Baltimore City and Baltimore County."

As of Friday, the Ohio EPA reported that around 8 million gallons of wastewater have been hauled out of town. Local leaders are seeking a legal opinion from the attorney general and have raised concerns with federal officials about being left in the dark. 

"That is something I've raised to the highest levels of the federal government: that we should have better communication over things like this—and we know that we can and will in the future," Scott said.

The mayor and county executive have requested additional testing before authorizing any discharge to the public system. The Maryland Department of the Environment has been contacted for further information on the matter.

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