Roachdale waste facility has previous violations

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:02 PM EST
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ROACHDALE, Ind. (WPTA) - On Tuesday, company officials from environmental services provider Heritage Environmental Services stated they were prepared to safely handle and dispose of contaminated material from the train derailment in east Palestine, Ohio. Just hours before, the Environmental Protection Agency announced some of the material would be shipped to the company’s Roachdale facility for disposal.

Roachdale is a small town southwest of Indianapolis.

21Investigates queried EPA records for any citations against the company and learned of previous violations.

According to EPA records, the Roachdale facility had 12 quarters of violations going back to 2020. While the agency does not detail the violations, it is clear they involved noncompliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which outlines how facilities must handle various kinds of waste. The EPA did not consider the violations “significant.”

In an email to 21 Investigates, the company’s legal team acknowledged an issue involving labels on a container in 2019, but declined to call it a “violation.”

“We believe the label was in compliance with the regulatory requirements and IDEM disagreed,” said Ali Alavi, Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for Heritage. “After a brief negotiation, the parties settled the matter with no admission of a violation rather than litigate.“

IDEM is shorthand for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which previously cited the company.

Heritage also took issue with the federal database of violations.

The ECHO database must be viewed in context,” Alavi insisted. “Once an alleged violation has been addressed, it remains showing as open until the agency closes the matter.  Thus, the misleading appearance of a violation extending for multiple quarters when it actually promptly was resolved.”

Records also show violations at other Heritage facilities including an Indianapolis site that was labeled by the EPA as a “significant noncomplier” of the RCRA, though the most recent inspection in late 2020 revealed no further violations, according to EPA inspectors.

On Tuesday, Governor Eric Holcomb expressed his dismay upon learning of the waste shipments. He told reporters that he heard the news “third-hand.” In a tweet, Holcomb said he ordered the environmental director to contact the EPA about the plans.

“The materials should go to the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana.”

Waste from the derailment site is also being taken to other facilities in Ohio and Michigan.

This story was updated to include a response from Heritage Environmental.

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