Contractor will not treat wastewater from East Palestine in Baltimore after mayor denies permit
BALTIMORE — Clean Harbors announced Tuesday that it will not treat contaminated wastewater from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio in Baltimore after pushback from local lawmakers.
"Given the actions that Mayor Scott has taken in denying our request to discharge the East Palestine pretreated wastewater into the Baltimore City system, we will not be processing any of the wastewater from the EPA-regulated cleanup of the site in Ohio at our Baltimore plant," Clean Harbors said. "While we are confident that our Baltimore facility is safe to handle and process that waste, as we have made clear from the beginning of this process, we would only be moving forward with the approval of all federal, state and local regulators."
Last Thursday, city leaders learned that at least 675,000 gallons of pretreated wastewater from East Palestine would be sent to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant—a city-run facility based in Dundalk.
The city-run facility has been under temporary state control due to compliance and permit issues. The site was rocked by an explosion at a contractor building this month, but no one was injured.
After concerns about the facility's ability to effectively treat the water, and the possible environmental impact, Mayor Scott directed the Department of Public Works to deny Clean Harbor's request to discharge the wastewater.
Prior to the statement from Harbor Works, other city leaders also expressed their concerns about the treatment of the wastewater in Baltimore.
City council members took action at Monday night's meeting by unanimously adopting a resolution to urge the EPA to reverse the plan to bring the water to the city.
Maryland Delegates Nawrocki and Szeliga thanked Baltimore City for pushing back on the wastewater project. "As a member of the Environment and Transportation Committee, it was unconscionable to simply sit back and watch the EPA try to strong-arm the Baltimore area," Delegate Nawrocki said. "No one trusts the aging sanitary sewer lines and the Back River Plant to successfully handle toxic water in a state remotely acceptable to run into the Chesapeake Bay," Delegate Szeliga commented.
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