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State Rep: Federal officials did not tell us toxic waste was coming

RUSSELLVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Hundreds of residents packed into the Russellville Community Center in Putnam County on Wednesday night and listened as officials from Heritage Environmental Services described the toxic materials they are receiving as a result of last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

“What we will be receiving is soil that is contaminated with a chemical that is used in paint, sealant, and caulking,” Ali Alavi, executive vice president of Heritage Environmental Services, said.

Three loads of contaminated soil have already been dumped at Heritage, with more expected to arrive Thursday.

Officials say the landfill, which is located just outside Russellville, is the only facility in the area that can accept the contaminated soil.

Alavi says the landfill will not be filled to capacity with the soil and that special cells built into the landfill will keep the toxins from leaking into the water table.

But some members of the community didn’t believe it.

“If we do not fix this, we will become a documentary in 10 years,” one resident said.

State Rep. Beau Baird (R-Putnam County) says he heard Sunday night that the toxic materials were headed for Putnam County — before Governor Eric Holcomb, Senate President Rod Bray, and House Speaker Todd Huston knew about it.

“I felt bad calling them, the leadership of the state on a Sunday evening, but I thought it was important enough to make calls. I thought surely I was the only one left out of the loop. I was shocked to find out no one had been communicated with so the true failure here is with our EPA,” Bair said.

Gov. Holcomb recently criticized the EPA for a “lack of communication” about the decision to send hazardous materials to Indiana.

Baird says he called the EPA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for an explanation but hasn’t heard back.