Train derailments and explosions and chemical spills

FROM March 4:
Another train derailed in Ohio. The train is reportedly owned by Norfolk Southern:

⬆️ SNIP:
Saturday’s train derailment near Prime Ohio II Industrial Park and the Clark County Fairgrounds was the second Norfolk Southern derailment reported in Clark County in the span of less than one year.
On Saturday, nearly 20 of 212 cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed, including four tankers carrying non-hazardous materials, per the train company. Two had residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid, and the other two had residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution.

EPA orders dioxin tests in E. Palestine. But who understands this complex game? I break it down.​

Based on the concerns of local residents, EPA has ordered testing for dioxins. But they are testing in all the wrong places — and they claim there is an 'acceptable level' of contamination​

Mar 2

Dear Friend and Reader:

Thursday evening, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it had ordered Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins in the aftermath of its train crash in East Palestine, Ohio one month ago.

But the wording of the press release indicates that there is plenty of wiggle room for the railroad to get out of a major cleanup, or having to evacuate the town. The dioxin testing game is a well-established routine played by state and federal authorities. But only one side knows the rules and understands the technology involved.

Testing in the wrong places​

In sum: they are testing in the wrong places, where they are least likely to find dioxins. Further, I have not seen the words “furans” or “dibenzofurans” anywhere but one of my own articles. They are dioxins with one oxygen rather than two.

Dioxin is regarded as the most toxic of all chemicals, and has the capacity to cause cancers, promote cancers, wreck the immune system, interfere with the hormone system (causing a diversity of illnesses), and cause severe liver damage. The acne associated with dioxin, called chloracne, has been known since the 1930s to be direct result of liver necrosis and systemic poisoning.

Let’s start with the good news, if you can call it that…​

As I promised, community pressure gets results. But now the community has to know the dioxin game. Study this and listen to the recording a few times and you will get the idea.

EPA admitted that it had caved to public pressure, which was mounted after my first article on the dioxin issue went viral. Carol van Strum and I also met with East Palestine residents on Feb. 13 to explain the dioxin problem. Since then it has come up at every town meeting, and there has been considerable (meaning nonstop) pressure brought to bear on EPA officials.

From the press release:​

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve sat with East Palestine residents and community leaders in their homes, businesses, churches, and schools. I’ve heard their fears and concerns directly, and I’ve pledged that these experiences would inform EPA’s ongoing response efforts,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
“In response to concerns shared with me by residents, EPA will require Norfolk Southern to sample directly for dioxins under the agency’s oversight and direct the company to conduct immediate clean up if contaminants from the derailment are found at levels that jeopardize people’s health.”

Now the bad news​

They are testing the wrong places if they want to find it, in particular, air, water and soil. It will not be in the air or surface water, and is is only somewhat likely to be in soil samples. They need to be testing greasy sediments and bulk soot from the fires.

Here is their language:​

As of February 28, EPA has collected at least 115 samples in the potentially impacted area, which include samples of air, soils, surface water, and sediments. To date, EPA’s monitoring for indicator chemicals has suggested a low probability for release of dioxin from this incident. EPA’s air has detected only low levels of 1,4-dichlorobenzene typical of ambient background concentrations.
They are playing two different games here. That is, besides the use of “indicator chemicals,” which I do not consider a valid measure.

One is they are NOT looking for it where it’s the most likely to be: in the burn pit, which is never mentioned; and in wipe samples taken from nearby rooftops.

That is where they will almost certainly find it, given how much chlorinated chemicals burned, along with lubricating oil and other chemicals that can bond into dioxins when they are all burned burned together.

PVC also burned — that creates dioxins​

The four train carloads of PVC pellets that burned are certain to have formed dioxins, though these are rarely mentioned. All that is mentioned is the vinyl chloride that was dumped and burned. Also not mentioned is that vinyl chloride was off-gassing for three days while many other chemicals were burning, making chlorine available to those fires.

But no proposed testing protocol that I have seen will give an accurate picture of what actually happened in those fires.

For that, there must be wipe samples taken from rooftops and bulk soot samples collected from below where the burn pit was filled in. It would also be good to have wipe samples from the interior and exterior of the vinyl chloride tankers.

Without samples from the burn pit and nearby rooftops, testing is a work of fiction comparable to using the PCR to ‘diagnose’ a virus. Dioxin is lipophilic. It sticks to fat. They must test greasy substances, such as soot. If they don’t need hexane solvent to take the sample, they are looking in the wrong place — where it will not be.

Pretending there is an acceptable level of exposure

Now here is the real catch: the EPA will “direct the company to conduct immediate clean up if contaminants from the derailment are found at levels that jeopardize people’s health.”

That sounds good, but there are a series of problems with this approach: there is no safe level of exposure.

ANY level of exposure can jeopardize people’s health. The risks are not spread evenly. They are talking about “negligible risk,” which means killing a certain number of people and calling it good, instead of calling it murder. Read this article on the topic.

But it gets worse. From the press release:​

Dioxins may be found in any urban or rural environment as a result of common processes such as burning wood or coal. Dioxins break down slowly in the environment, so the source of dioxins found in any area may be uncertain. To address related questions, EPA will require Norfolk Southern to conduct a background study to compare any dioxin levels around East Palestine to dioxin levels in other areas not impacted by the train derailment.
  1. They admit there is a background level in the environment from previous pollution, which they will hide behind. This is what they always do; and it goes further in that they can tell people you’re not sick from this dioxin, you’re sick from that dioxin.
  2. They have no way to know what areas were “impacted by the train derailment” because they don’t understand how the plume spread. Based on my reporting, I am aware that people have reported unusual illnesses or wildlife deaths as far west as central Ohio; as far south as Kentucky; ans as far east as New Hampshire.
  3. If the dioxins spread well beyond the derailment site, then the “background level” will already be elevated and invalidate the results of the study. EPA can say, “Well, the levels in East Palestine are not much higher than the surrounding areas. Therefore, it’s safe.” But that is a fallacy several times over. Any baseline would need to have been measured before a presumed dioxin release, not after.
  4. There is no mention of dibenzofurans, or furans, which are dioxins with one oxygen molecule rather than two. We may assume that the EPA protocol includes furans, but that is not a safe assumption. Furans must be tested for in the same round of analysis with dioxins; the ARE dioxins.
Why can I write this without even referring to notes? Because I know from many different events that this is how the game is played. But the citizens of East Palestine and beyond don’t know this. How would they?

OK, those are my thoughts tonight.

Please add your comments and let’s get this out to the people in East Palestine, and the many other places where people are getting sick. And for anyone who thinks there is such a thing as acceptable risk, please read this excellent article by Carol van Strum that asks whether “risk assessment” is a form of premeditated murder.
Aside from seeing the various reports here on how to understand the chemical situation in East Palestine, our own experience up here in Eastern Ontario in the wake of the burn plume has affected me. I've debated reporting this as it's such a personal exploration and not any hard evidence. Anyway.

I was aware of and following the train wreck news. Then about 3 weeks ago, I felt all-over sick. Our cat, Slipper, was sneezing uncharacteristically. I checked myself as I do daily and realized for the first time ever I needed a Milk Thistle tincture. That's for liver damage problems - to my observation it's needed when there is tissue injury in the liver. It only adds up because I know how to test the condition of organs as I learned from the Auricular Medicine protocol, described below. My own now ongoing need of liver support, plus same for my husband and some friends, doesn't add up to a lot but there has been a change in or after the first week or so of February, that much I can confidently say.

I had Slipper examined by our Auricular Medicine practitioner and she found when Slipper got her appointment a week or so later, that the cat's liver had sustained tissue damage. It could have been there before, but I can't confirm that, unfortunately. That was one possible affirmation that something bad had affected her liver and had happened because of added environmental toxins.

One friend noticed a chemical smell on the air, without knowing about East Palestine, and another had a bad sore throat around the same time I felt sick.

There was a video from Twitter posted by a Montreal environmental scientist just after I felt so sick. He said too many parts per million of this and that, water at a Ph level of 4, which can kill fish. People found iridescent exudate of some kind had fallen on their cars, all these comments on Twitter ranged from Guelph West of Toronto as far as Montreal PQ.

So something seems to have happened even all the way up here. Always there's a possibility of suggestion and bias in dowsing of any kind and I work against that. There needs to be practical confirmation and that confirmation here is circumstantial only.

I concluded it's important to share these possible effects so others might investigate for their own health if they were in the path of such a disaster. What you notice may be subtle and it's hard to get the appropriate testing as pharma medicine has such a waitlist and then you have to know ins and outs about accuracy of testing, etc.. I hope people in East Palestine get real help to detoxify. I don't know how to follow up on that. If I think of a way, I will follow up.

The Auricular Medicine assessment description, as it is one of the ways I track these health changes:
This assessment technique measures changes in the electro-magnetic field of the body. When micro stimuli are applied to the body, the response of the electro-magnetic field can be measured by monitoring the radial pulse in the wrist. The electromagnetic field will either expand or contract in response to the stimuli, which may represent an organ, a medicine or some other substance depending upon the intent of the practitioner.
The electromagnetic field can be felt with your hand, traced when it contracts close to the body, meaning something you are testing supports health and balance or it moves quite far out when the field is weakened. This is what I use to figure out our supplements, homeopathy and food sensitivities other than see my friend, the Auricular Medicine practitioner. I only go into all this in describing circustances that could have been due to the East Palestine burn.

Short description of Auricular Medicine practice (there are Auricular Medicine practitioners scattered around Ontario, Mikhael Adams is the foremost one I know of):

What is Auricular Medicine? | Head to Heal Wellness Centre

The residents in East Palestine are in a terrible situation. I was realizing that even up here a few hours away from the place in Ohio, we could be affected. It prompted the gut level realization that I am also the prey. The whole Covid psyop and now coming nose to nose with spreading toxicity brought a shift for me. I don't feel the same. I feel, at one level, like a prey animal. That leads to changes in thinking and in behaviour. It's new territory. Positive territory, I believe. Recognition of reality.
Lots of chemical related incidences in the US. This one is unusual.

Something very strange happened in Manhattan which seems to be downplayed, as it is now suggested that it was a suicide.
A car with several plastic pales of chemicals is a suicide ???

This gent brought it to my attention,

A 35-year-old woman was found dead inside her vehicle after ingesting toxic chemicals, according to the New York City Police Department.

The victim was psychotherapist Ariel Campbell, her father David confirmed to Her body was found around 11.20am on Sunday inside a car parked at East 56th Street and Sutton Place in Midtown.

Brandt lime sulfur and another toxic substance were found in the vehicle, which combined then created deadly hydrogen sulfide. The NYPD and FDNY requested assistance from a hazmat team to remove the chemicals.

Authorities said Campbell’s manner of death is believed to be a suicide. A cause of death will be determined by the Office of the City Medical Examiner.

Lots of chemical related incidences in the US. This one is unusual.

Something very strange happened in Manhattan which seems to be downplayed, as it is now suggested that it was a suicide.
A car with several plastic pales of chemicals is a suicide ???

This gent brought it to my attention,

That's a pretty rough suicide for a woman...really for anybody.
Come on Friend, LETS GO !!!!

We can still make it if we hurry :whistle::halo:

View attachment 72071

It might be good to call ahead and check if perhaps HAZMET gear might not be appropriate.

Loved the video @Hi_Henry ! Patterns, patterns, patterns...this is what always jumps out at me.

No doubt the video will cause some to go into disbelieving overload, covering ears, while saying, "No, no, NO!"
Another train derailment! This happened in Sandstone West Virginia and was caused by a boulder on the track. Fortunately all the cars were empty but the engine and fuel tank fell into the New River and leaked diesel fuel which was on fire at the time.

Last edited:
One Sputnik article that has a link to a second:

Almost Like You Want to Find Nothing: Experts Slam Norfolk Southern Air Tests in East Palestine
Public health experts are warning that the ‘air testing’ being carried out in East Palestine by a for-profit company hired by Norfolk Southern is “almost like smoke and mirrors.”

The ‘air testing’ recently conducted in East Palestine residents’ homes was deficient in a number of key ways and was actually carried out by a company contracted by the rail company Norfolk Southern, a new report has revealed.

East Palestine, Ohio was smothered in toxic fumes last month when the authorities intentionally burned off huge quantities of vinyl chloride following a train derailment in the village.

Residents fled the area in the immediate aftermath. However, after an evacuation order was lifted, many have returned, with some reportedly citing ‘air testing’ results which apparently determined that they could return home without danger.

But on Saturday, an explosive new report seemed to confirm what many have come to suspect: “the air testing results did not prove their homes were truly safe.”

Norfolk Southern hired the firm testing air in East Palestine homes. Experts warn the checks are lacking

Several experts called for a wider range of chemicals to be scanned for and recommended testing on surfaces as well
The people who arrived offered to test the air inside her home for free. She was so eager to learn the results, she didn’t look closely at the paper they asked her to sign. Within minutes of taking measurements with a hand-held machine, one of them told her they hadn’t detected any harmful chemicals. Foster moved her mother back the same day.

What she didn’t realize is that the page of test results that put her mind at ease didn’t come from the government or an independent watchdog. CTEH, the contractor that provided them, was hired by Norfolk Southern, the operator of the freight train that derailed.

And, according to several independent experts consulted by ProPublica in collaboration with the Guardian, the air testing results did not prove their homes were truly safe. Erin Haynes, a professor of environmental health at the University of Kentucky, said the air tests were inadequate in two ways: they were not designed to detect the full range of dangerous chemicals the derailment may have unleashed, and they did not sample the air long enough to accurately capture the levels of chemicals they were testing for.

“It’s almost like if you want to find nothing, you run in and run out,” Haynes said.
About a quarter century ago, the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health was founded by four scientists who all had done consulting work for tobacco companies or lawyers defending them. Now known by its acronym, CTEH quickly became a go-to contractor for corporations responsible for industrial disasters. Its bread and butter is train crashes and derailments. The company has been accused repeatedly of downplaying health risks.

In since-deleted marketing on its website, CTEH once explained how the data it gathers about toxic chemicals can be used later to shield its clients from liability in cases brought by people who say they were harmed: “A carrier of chemicals may be subjected to legal claims as a result of a real or imagined release. Should this happen, appropriate meteorological and chemical data, recorded and saved … may be presented as powerful evidence to assist in the litigation or potentially preclude litigation.”

Despite this track record, the company has been put in charge of allaying residents’ concerns about health risks and has publicly presented a rosy assessment.

It was CTEH, not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that designed the testing protocol for the indoor air tests.

And it is CTEH, not the government, that runs the hotline residents are directed to call with concerns about odors, fumes or health problems. Local and federal officials, including the EPA, funnel the scared and sick to company representatives.
Stephen Lester, a toxicologist who has helped communities respond to environmental crises since the Love Canal disaster in upstate New York in the 1970s, said he was concerned about Norfolk Southern’s role in deciding how environmental testing is done in East Palestine. “The company is responsible for the costs of cleaning up this accident,” Lester said. “And if they limit the extent of how we understand its impact, their liability will be less.”
In a written response to questions, Norfolk Southern said it “has been transparent about representing CTEH as a contractor for Norfolk Southern from day one of our response to the incident”. The company also pointed to a map on its website displaying CTEH’s outdoor air-monitoring results that says “Client: Norfolk Southern” in tiny type in the corner. “We are committed to working with the community and the EPA to do what is right for the residents of East Palestine,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson wrote in an email.

When told by a reporter that the contractor, CTEH, was hired by the rail company, Foster’s face fell. “I had no clue,” she said. Looking back, she said, the people who came to her door never said anything about Norfolk Southern. They didn’t give her a copy of the paper that she had signed.
But five experts on the health effects of chemicals consulted for this story said that the failure to detect VOCs should not be interpreted to mean that people’s homes are necessarily safe.

“VOCs are not the only chemicals that could have been in the air,” said Haynes, the environmental health professor. Haynes also said that because the testing was a snapshot – as opposed to an assessment made over several days – it would not be expected to detect VOCs at most household levels.

Many of the toxic chemicals that were airborne in the early days after the derailment, including pollutants that can cause cancer and other serious problems, may have settled out of the air and onto furniture and into crevices in houses, Haynes said. So she also recommended testing surfaces for compounds that could have been created by the burning of vinyl chloride, such as aromatic hydrocarbons, including the carcinogen benzene. Young children who play on the floor are especially vulnerable, Haynes added.

Even a week after the derailment, Haynes said VOCs likely would have dissipated. “To keep the focus on the air is almost smoke and mirrors,” she said. “Like, ‘Hey, the air is fine!’ Of course it’s going to be fine. Now you should be looking for where those chemicals went. They did not disappear. They are still in the environment.”

In addition, Dr Ted Schettler, science director at the Science and Environmental Health Network, noted that some VOCs can cause symptoms at levels below 0.1 ppm, which CTEH’s tests wouldn’t capture. Schettler gave the example of butyl acrylate, one of the chemicals that was carried by the derailed train. “The symptoms are irritation of the eyes and throats, headaches and nausea,” he said.
Health experts are particularly concerned about dioxins in East Palestine because the compounds can cause health problems, including cancer. The combustion of vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride, two of the chemicals that were on the train and burned after it derailed, have been known to produce dioxins.

But, in his statement, Nony [CTEH’s principal toxicologist and senior vice-president] dismissed the idea that the incident could have created dioxins “at a significant concentration” and said testing for the compounds was unwarranted. The company based that assessment on air monitoring it did with the EPA when the chemicals were purposefully set on fire; they were looking for two other chemicals that are produced by burning vinyl chloride.

Last week, the EPA said it would require Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins in the soil in East Palestine. And the agency has since released a plan for soil sampling to be carried out by another Norfolk Southern contractor. But some are arguing that the EPA should do the testing itself – and should have done it much earlier.
The results of CTEH’s tests in East Palestine were used at one point to deny a family’s reimbursement for hotel and relocation costs. Zsuzsa Gyenes, who lives about a mile from the derailment site, said she began to feel ill a few hours after the accident. “It felt like my brain was smacking into my skull. I got very disoriented, nauseous. And my skin started tingling,” she said. Her nine-year-old son also became sick. “He was projectile puking and shaking violently,” said Gyenes, who was especially concerned about his breathing because he has been hospitalized several times for asthma. “He was gasping for air.”

Gyenes, her partner and son left for a hotel. At first, Norfolk Southern reimbursed the family for the stay, food and other expenses. The company even covered the cost of a remote-controlled car that Gyenes bought to cheer up her son, who was devastated because he was unable to attend school and missed the Valentine’s Day party.

But the reimbursements stopped after Gyenes got her air tested by CTEH. Gyenes was handed a piece of paper with a CTEH logo showing that the company did not detect any VOCs.

The next time Gyenes brought her receipts to the emergency assistance center, she said she was told that no expenses incurred after her air had been tested would be reimbursed because the air was safe.

A post office clerk, Gyenes described her financial situation as “bleeding out”. Nevertheless, she continued to foot the hotel bill. “I still feel sick every time I go back into town,” she said.

When she called the hotline, she got upset when a CTEH toxicologist told her that there was no way her headache, chest pain, tingling or nausea could be related to the derailment.

ProPublica asked Norfolk Southern about Gyenes’ situation. A spokesperson said the company reimbursed her $5,000, including some lodging and food expenses, after the initial air tests even though the company said her home is outside the evacuation zone. It noted that Gyenes used “abusive language” when questioning the toxicologist. (Gyenes acknowledged that she called her a “liar”.)

Norfolk Southern said it is working with local and federal authorities to arrange another test of the air in her home. “We’ll continue to work with every affected community member toward being comfortable back in their homes, including this resident,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson said in an email.

After ProPublica asked about the family, Norfolk Southern restarted payments.

On Wednesday, when Gyenes returned to the emergency assistance center, she said that she was given $1,000 on a prepaid card to cover lodging, food and gas.
Highly hypocritical in that Ohio officials were the ones that ignited the chemical spill!

Entirely Avoidable: Ohio Attorney General Sues Norfolk Southern Over East Palestine Train Derailment
There are 21 other lawsuits against Norfolk Southern. While most cases target Norfolk Southern, one group's lawsuit claims that the EPA has committed acts that have placed people in danger of violating their 14th amendment rights.

The chemical disaster that hit East Palestine, Ohio, due to a Norfolk Southern train derailment has essentially evaporated from the news…especially in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse.

Personally, I find it very troubling that bank executive concerns emanating from California and New York received immediate attention and promises of massive fiscal assistance. In contrast, the good people of Ohio had to wait weeks for a press conference.

So, I thought I would look at the response’s status and the consequences of the chemical contamination that spread due to the choice to do a controlled burn of the chemicals being shipped in the train that derailed.

On Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern:
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a 58-count civil lawsuit in federal court today seeking to hold Norfolk Southern financially responsible for the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine that caused the release of over 1 million gallons of hazardous chemicals, “recklessly endangering” both the health of area residents and Ohio’s natural resources.

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” AG Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”
This evening's Tucker Carlson Tonight with guest host Will Cain, had a segment on East Palestine, reporting that the people are getting sicker every day. Scott C. Smith, the Chief Sustainability Officer for ECO Integrated Technologies, has been hired by the residents to do independent testing of their water and soil. Testing for dioxin began the last week in February and initial results for water confirmed dioxin contamination. Children, particularly, are coughing up blood and people experiencing headaches. Smith is convinced that dioxin is ubiquitous in the environment even before all the results are in due to the sickness that wasn't present before the derailment. He emphasized the importance of furnace filters in that they are the closest thing to show what is in people's lungs. His team will make sure the filters are collected and tested.
This evening's Tucker Carlson Tonight with guest host Will Cain, had a segment on East Palestine, reporting that the people are getting sicker every day. Scott C. Smith, the Chief Sustainability Officer for ECO Integrated Technologies, has been hired by the residents to do independent testing of their water and soil. Testing for dioxin began the last week in February and initial results for water confirmed dioxin contamination. Children, particularly, are coughing up blood and people experiencing headaches. Smith is convinced that dioxin is ubiquitous in the environment even before all the results are in due to the sickness that wasn't present before the derailment. He emphasized the importance of furnace filters in that they are the closest thing to show what is in people's lungs. His team will make sure the filters are collected and tested.

As it gets warmer the problem will be more and more noticeable.
As expected:

Levels of carcinogenic chemical near Ohio derailment site far above safe limit
Newly released data shows soil in the Ohio town of East Palestine – scene of a recent catastrophic train crash and chemical spill – contains dioxin levels hundreds of times greater than the exposure threshold above which Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists in 2010 found poses cancer risks.

Though the dioxin levels in East Palestine are below the federal action threshold and an EPA administrator last week told Congress the levels were “very low”, chemical experts, including former EPA officials, who reviewed the data for the Guardian called them “concerning”.

The levels found in two soil samples are also up to 14 times higher than dioxin soil limits in some states, and the numbers point to wider contamination, said Linda Birnbaum, a former head of the US National Toxicology Program and EPA scientist.

“The levels are not screaming high, but we have confirmed that dioxins are in East Palestine’s soil,” she said. “The EPA must test the soil in the area more broadly.”

The data probably confirms fears that the controlled burn of vinyl chloride in the days after the train wreck in the town created dioxin and dispersed it throughout the area, experts say, though they stressed the new data is of limited value because only two soil samples were checked.

After resisting calls for weeks to test for dioxins, the EPA on 3 March announced it would order Norfolk Southern to do so. Separately, Indiana last week commissioned testing of East Palestine soil because one of the state’s landfills is storing it. The testing was conducted by what Birnbaum characterized as a reputable laboratory.

The Indiana governor, Eric Holcomb, said the levels found in the soil “were not harmful”. Meanwhile, an EPA regional administrator, Debra Shore, during congressional testimony on 9 March characterized the dioxin levels found in Indiana as “very low” and “good news”.

But while the EPA can claim that the levels are “low” from a legal standpoint, the agency’s own science suggests they are not safe, and dioxin experts who spoke with the Guardian cast doubt on Shore’s and Holcomb’s assessments.

Regulators establish the toxicity of dioxins in a soil sample by calculating the “toxicity equivalence” of all dioxins in the soil compared with the most toxic dioxin compound, called 2,3,7,8 TCDD. East Palestine soil showed levels of “2,3,7,8 TCDD toxicity equivalence” of 700 parts per trillion (ppt). The level at which the EPA will initiate cleanup action in residential areas is 1,000 ppt.

However, the cleanup triggers are much lower in many states – 90 ppt in Michigan, and 50 ppt in California.

“So based on this, the concentrations are actually concerning,” said Carsten Prasse, an organic chemist at Johns Hopkins University and scientific adviser for SimpleLab. Federal cleanup standards of 1,000 ppt apply in Ohio.

Moreover, EPA scientists in 2010 put the cancer risk threshold for dioxins in residential soil at 3.7 ppt, and the agency recommended lowering the cleanup trigger to 72 ppt.

“When you run the numbers and do your best state-of-the-art risk calculations, that’s the number you get for the cancer risk,” said Stephen Lester, a toxicologist who has researched dioxins for 40 years and is science director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “That’s why dioxins are described as one of the most toxic chemicals ever created.”

The rules were ultimately killed ”for political reasons”, Lester said. Exposure to that level of dioxin is probably widespread, and making the change would create fallout that would be extremely difficult for the government to manage, he added.

“Instead of making adjustments for the high risk of these chemicals, they dropped it, they just walked away from it, and that’s the crazy part of this story,” Lester said. Now the EPA can legally claim the levels in East Palestine are safe, even if agency science has suggested it is not.

Experts also cautioned that the levels may be safe for Indiana’s purpose – storing toxic waste in a landfill – and unsafe in the context of public exposure to the chemicals around the crash site.

It is also unclear where and at what depth the samples were collected, Prasse noted, all of which has implications for potential health risks in East Palestine. The chemicals would especially present a risk in dust and gardens, or for children playing outside, he added. Many homes are a matter of feet from the wreck site.

“My main concern is: is this reflective of the level in the area in East Palestine … and of the levels individuals who live near the rail are exposed to?” Prasse said. “I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable living there.”

Moreover, if the soil that Indiana tested had been shipped to the state in a truck or train car, then it was mixed with other soil and probably diluted, which could make the soil appear safer than it is, and would conceal hotspots on the ground, Birnbaum said.

She noted the results revealed a wide range of dioxins, which suggests the chemicals were created in the vinyl chloride burn. Though dioxins are often present throughout the environment at low levels, especially in industrial areas like East Palestine, background profiles are usually limited to fewer types of dioxin, Birnbaum said.

In 1980, the EPA forced the evacuation of Times Beach, Missouri, when dioxin levels exceeding 1,000 ppt were found in the soil after the chemicals were sprayed on the town’s roads to prevent the spread of dust.

Experts who have begun reviewing Norfolk Southern’s plan for testing for dioxins are already raising concerns about its design, and say the EPA may fear a repeat of Times Beach.

“What you really need to know for the people in the area to be safe is where did the dioxins come from, where did the wind take it, where was it deposited and where is the area with heavy levels,” Birnbaum said.
Top Bottom