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Congressman Jim Baird asks state officials to halt shipments of contaminated soil

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One of Indiana’s Congressional delegation said Friday officials should fully test soil contaminated by the Ohio train derailment before any more is shipped to Indiana.

Congressman Jim Baird’s district includes his native Putnam County, which is home to a hazardous waste landfill that began taking shipments of the soil this week. In a letter to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Baird said state officials should stop any further shipment or storage of the soil until state, federal, and Norfolk Southern officials test the soil, publish their findings, and establish oversight of the entire operation. Baird’s letter came a day after Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state would contract with Pace Labs to test the soil for dioxin.

Baird told News 8 in an interview for All INdiana Politics that he was not made aware of the decision to ship the material to Indiana. He said while he was satisfied overall with the construction and record of Heritage Environmental Services’ landfill near Russellville, the federal government should have kept state and local officials in the loop from the beginning.

“The EPA does certify those facilities,” he said. “It’s just that I think this was a little too speedy, too rapid and too quick without taking the necessary precautions.”

Baird said stricter notification requirements are needed any time hazardous waste is moved to or through an area. When asked whether the federal government should revive Obama-era requirements concerning the construction of tank cars, he said investigators should first focus on why the train went through multiple temperature detectors before it stopped.

All INdiana Politics airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on WISH-TV.