The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not test for dioxins as part of their work monitoring an eastern Ohio town after a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed and cast a large chemical plume into the air, WKBN reported.
A Norfolk Southern train carrying chemicals including vinyl chloride derailed on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, and a controlled burn was conducted on Feb. 6 to prevent an explosion which released the chemicals into the air and water. EPA Region 5 administrator Debra Shore said that the agency would not test for dioxins, which are groups of toxic chemical compounds, at the current time, according to WKBN. (RELATED: ‘Superman’s Not Coming’: Ohioans Brace For Tough Road Ahead After Toxic Train Derailment)
“The residents should be very concerned that EPA is not testing for dioxins,” Stephen Lester, science director at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s very clear that dioxins would have formed when the vinyl chloride on the train was dumped and was burned. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how much was formed and where did it settle out.”
Dioxins take a long time to break down and could cause serious health concerns including cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and can be formed through combustion or burning fuels, according to the EPA’s website.
“Dioxins are ubiquitous in the environment. They were here before the accident, they will be here after, and we don’t have baseline information in this area to do a proper test. But, we are talking to our toxicologist and looking into it,” Shore reportedly said.
The EPA has since conducted air and water tests and maintain that the levels are safe; however, residents reported health concerns such as rashes and headaches after the derailment. Lester told East Palestine residents at a town hall on Feb. 23 that ignoring dioxins has been “one major mistake” in EPA testing.
“The level of dioxin that gets into a body, a person, an animal, a cow, that could lead to health problems is extraordinarily low. It does not take very much,” Lester said, according to WKBN. “I’d be very concerned if I had a farm, especially if I was aware, as some people described in that meeting, that the black cloud from the burning had settle onto their property.”
He alleged the EPA is not testing for dioxins because they would know they will find them and then they will have to address the questions that residents are asking about the risks of exposure to dioxins,” he told the DCNF.
“I’ve never heard anybody, any researcher talk about cookouts. Because that’s an infinitesimal concentration, if at all. Because dioxins form not just cause there’s burning, you need a chlorine source,” Lester said, according to WKBN.
Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance and Democrat Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the EPA on Feb. 8 requesting dioxin testing in East Palestine.
“We are concerned that … the burning of large volumes of vinyl chloride may have resulted in the formation of dioxins that may have been dispersed throughout the East Palestine community and potentially a much large[r] area,” the letter reads.
Shore confirmed to WKBN the EPA received the letter.
The EPA, Vance and Brown did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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