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THE TOXIC POLITICS OF TOXIC WASTE By Deb Chubb, Progressive Dems Steering Committee Member

I’m impressed with the outrage of residents near Roachdale, Indiana who are shocked and frightened about the possible health impacts of toxic waste being deposited near their homes. Two hundred people showed up to confront the operators of a landfill that is one of many landfills around the country approved by EPA to accept the toxic waste from the train cars that were damaged by a derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Likewise, Governor Holcomb publicly objected to the EPA’s plan to store some of the waste in Indiana.

In fact, the EPA reports that they will be challenged to find enough approved landfills to accept the amount of toxic waste from the East Palestine train wreck. Approved toxic waste landfills are those with proper linings to prevent contact with groundwater, leachate collection systems to keep precipitation from moving the toxic waste into the ground, and monitoring systems to ensure ground water is safe.

It seems like this might be a good time to remind Governor Holcomb and the residents of Roachdale about the toxic coal ash waste that he and our Republican supermajority legislature happily allow to sit in unlined, uncovered pits, mix with groundwater, and threaten to contaminate major rivers and lakes in Indiana with little or no monitoring.

State Representative Pat Boy has introduced multiple bills seeking a state mandate for coal burning plants to adequately clean up the toxic coal ash mess that they have made. But, Republican leaders have not allowed those bills to even be heard in a legislative committee, let alone be voted on by the full chambers. Instead, the Republican supermajority legislature and those appointed by the Governor to oversee utility rates allow the producers of toxic coal ash to inadequately clean up a fraction of their mess and to increase consumer utility rates to pay for the inadequate clean-up of their toxic waste.

What’s the difference between the appropriate management of toxic waste from a train wreck and the inappropriate management of toxic waste produced and stored here in Indiana? Why are Republicans outraged by one and not the other? It is toxic politics. The companies making and transporting toxic waste on trains apparently don’t contribute enough money to Indiana’s Republican legislators. And, without an adequate payoff, Republicans cannot resist an opportunity to toss political stink bombs at the president and his administration.

So far, the clean-up in East Palestine, Ohio includes the capture and removal of over 700 tons of contaminated soil and almost two million gallons of toxic liquid. However, the extent of the spillage and contamination is far larger and will take years to fully clean-up. Nearby communities may not return to normal for many, many years. The toxic waste will sit in lined landfills around the country for generations. Meanwhile here in Indiana, toxic coal ash will continue to sit in open, unlined pits next to the sources of our drinking water until we elect enough Democrats to bring rational thought to our legislature. If only Republicans cared about the health of Hoosiers as much as they care about toxic politics.


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