The devastating train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, has sent shock waves around the nation. Images of the burning chemicals and sad stories of dying pets and sickened people are hard to process.

These events are happening far from us here in Texas, or are they?

News is emerging that toxic wastewater used to extinguish a fire following the train derailment in Ohio has been transported to a Houston suburb for disposal. This has led to two main questions.

Is there any more toxic material from this train wreck arriving in Texas? Could any of this toxic material end up in our backyard?

The first question would seem to be easy to answer. The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered all hazardous waste shipments from the train wreck out of Ohio to stop. This action came after officials in Houston raised questions about why they weren't notified about the wastewater landing in their city.

Photo: the Independent via YouTube
Photo: the Independent via YouTube

This doesn't mean they won't resume at some point, but for now, we're safe from further shipments.

Before the transport was ordered to stop, the delivery of toxic waste from Ohio raised questions about the methods of transport, which included trains. It was like one error waiting for another. Transporting this hazardous waste in trains may have put countless people between Ohio and Houston at risk.

The second question as to whether any toxic material from the train wreck in Ohio could arrive in the San Angelo area seems to be no, but with caveats.

The Texas company that received the toxic wastewater from Ohio, Texas Molecular, has only one toxic disposal facility in Texas, the one in Deer Park, a suburb of Houston.

However, there are several injection wells for wastewater disposal in the San Angelo area, but not all are used for toxic wastewater. Injection wells are a standard method of disposing of wastewater, including industrial and municipal wastewater, as well as oil and gas drilling fluids.

While we know that no toxic waste from the Ohio trainwreck is destined for San Angelo, we cannot be sure what other toxic materials are being injected into the earth here in our area.  We can take comfort in knowing that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) maintains strict regulatory control over managing all hazardous and non-hazardous waste in Texas.

Let's hope that we never have the type of train derailment here in San Angelo that occurred in Ohio. There is reason to believe this is highly unlikely.

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