Baltimore Co. delegates push back against toxic East Palestine water

A pair of Baltimore County legislators are pushing back against a proposal that would see Maryland accept tainted water from East Palestine, Ohio.

On Friday, Baltimore County executive John Olszewski and Mayor Brandon Scott said they are considering accepting hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from the site of the fiery Norfolk Southern Railroad train derailment on Feb. 3.

In a news release on Saturday, delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki of District 7A said they disagree with the plan.

“There is no amount of money that could possibly pay to process the toxic cleanup waste from the chemical disaster in Ohio,” Szeliga said.

If the plan goes through, the water would be sent to the Back River Wastewater Treatment plant in Dundalk.

Nawrocki noted “sewage overflows” and “continual failures” at the facility in his statement. “They certainly should not be trusted to process toxic waste into Maryland’s greatest natural resource,” Nawrocki said.

Other state leaders in the U.S. have also pushed back against plans to receive toxic shipments from Ohio. Shipments have been sent to other areas in Ohio, along with Michigan, Texas and Indiana. But when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he would not accept any material from the disaster site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stepped in.

EPA administrator Michael Regan said last week that it was “impermissible and … unacceptable” to block shipments, and doing so could be a violation of both federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

Szeliga and Nawrocki said they will start work next week with their legislative colleagues to prohibit Maryland from taking on the waste.

On Saturday, Scott’s office said the city’s public works department has contracted with Norfolk Southern to receive the wastewater from the derailment site. He said city and Baltimore County officials have received assurances from both the EPA and the state that the Dundalk plant is capable of treating the water.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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