Biden EPA Says It Won't Test for Toxic Dioxins in East Palestine, Despite Expert Warnings
The Environmental Protection Agency 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 Monday that the agency would not test for dioxins, which are groups of toxic chemical compounds, at the current time, according to WKBN.
Dioxins take a long time to break down and could cause serious health concerns including — “cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system” — 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 said, WKBN reported.
The EPA has since conducted air and water tests and maintains that the levels are safe; however, residents reported health concerns, such as rashes and headaches, after the derailment. Stephen Lester, science director at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, 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 “be put in a place where they have to address it,” but Shore said that the EPA is not currently testing for the compounds because they “don’t have any baseline information about the levels of dioxins which are produced also by wildfires, by backyard grilling, by a host of other things.”
“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.
Ohio Republican Sen. J.D. Vance and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the EPA on Feb. 18 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 said.
Shore confirmed to WKBN the EPA received the letter.
The EPA, Lester, Vance and Brown did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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