The toxic wastewater from the Ohio train crash is being sent 1,300 miles away to Texas, but local authorities weren't told until a week after it started arriving, county judge says

The toxic wastewater from the Ohio train crash is being sent 1,300 miles away to Texas, but local authorities weren't told until a week after it started arriving, county judge says
Smoke and flames rise after after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, United States on February 17, 2023.EPA/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • The water used to battle the blaze at the Ohio train derailment is being sent to Deer Park, Texas.
  • But the top authority there said she only found out about it from the press.

The water that put out the blaze at the toxic train derailment in Ohio is being sent to Texas to be disposed, and the top local authority at the destination says she had to find out on her own.

At least 2 million gallons of the contaminated water is to be transported more than 1,300 miles from the Ohio town of East Palestine to Deer Park, Texas, authorities said.

"I and my office heard today that 'firefighting water' from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment is slated to be disposed of in our County," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in a statement on Wednesday. Hidalgo is the county's chief executive and director of emergency management, and Deer Park falls under her jurisdiction.

Waste treatment company Texas Molecular is in charge of the disposal. It will likely use deep well injection, which involves drilling a hole thousands of feet underground and flushing the waste inside, experts told the Associated Press and ABC13.

But Hidalgo has raised questions about the toxic water being transported to Harris County, which has 4.5 million residents — more people than the entire state of Oregon.


She said at a Thursday press conference that she only found out about the arrangement through the press.

Hidalgo said that when she spoke to Texas Molecular, she discovered that its Deer Park facility had already been receiving 500,000 gallons of the toxic water for over a week.

"According to Texas Molecular, the water began arriving to Harris County, quote, 'last Wednesday-ish.' That's what they told us," she said.

Hidalgo said she wasn't trying to raise fears, but took issue with how the arrangement was communicated when it may have wide-reaching safety implications.

She said federal authorities themselves "don't seem to have the full information." "I'm not clear on who has the full picture here and that is a problem," she said, calling communication regarding the incident "fundamentally broken."


Hidalgo also questioned why the water is being sent all the way to Texas. She said two other injection wells that can accept hazardous waste are closer to the site of the derailment — one in Ohio and another in Michigan.

"It doesn't mean there's something nefarious going on, but we do need to know the answer," she said.

The toxic water is being transported via rail, and will be moved onto trucks for the last leg of the journey, said Hidalgo.

"The last thing I want is for our community or one of the many, many communities between Ohio and Harris County, Texas, to be the next place where there is an accident with materials from this derailing," she added.

Federal officials have been monitoring the area where a 50-car train derailed near East Palestine on February 3. At least five of the train cars were carrying vinyl chloride, a chemical used to create plastics.


Authorities have allowed people to return to the area after initially evacuating neighborhoods, though some are still skeptical whether it's safe to go home. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been screening homes, said it's not yet detected any cause for concern in the air or in the public water supply.

The EPA, Department of Transportation, Texas Molecular, and Hidalgo did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.