Russellville town meeting erupts in anger over toxic waste disposal
RUSSELLVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Heritage Environmental Services hosted a community meeting Wednesday night in Russellville to discuss shipments of toxic waste that are now being delivered to a landfill near the Putnam County town.
Representatives of Heritage Environmental Services assured attendees that it had the necessary expertise and resources to handle the disposal of hazardous materials, but many at the meeting expressed anger over not being informed of the toxic waste coming to their town.
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Heritage Environmental Services says they are one of the only landfills within hundreds of miles of the scene of last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that could take the toxic materials.
The company told residents that the contaminated waste was “well below the limits they could accept” and that special cells built into the landfill would keep it from seeping into the water table.
Three loads of contaminated soil had been transported to the landfill by the time of Wednesday’s meeting and more were expected to arrive Thursday.
Residents and local leaders took turns to express outrage over the lack of communication regarding the transportation of the contaminated waste to Indiana.
One resident stated, “I’ve got three kids, and if any of my kids get sick, I swear to God…”
Another person in the audience questioned why the people of the area were not informed before the trucks arrived, stating, “Don’t tell me you couldn’t have done that.”
The fear of contamination was evident as another attendee asked, “Who is going to be facing that poison daily? How do you plan to keep it out of Turkey Creek and my grandchildren’s water?”
Local leaders, like State Rep. Beau Baird, said they were not notified by federal officials about the arrival of the toxic waste.
Baird said he called Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the EPA office to voice his concerns but has yet to hear back.
Baird told News 8 that much of the blame rests with the EPA.
“The true failure here is from the EPA,” Baird said. “Once the EPA got involved in this, there should have been communication with our local elected officials, state elected officials, and ultimately, the community, before any of this happened.”