EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now having Norfolk Southern test for dioxins in East Palestine about a month after a train derailed. The EPA will be overseeing these tests.
Scientists and activists who have been following the train derailment and subsequent controlled release of vinyl chloride say they still have some questions about how that testing will be conducted.
“Its toxicity is remarkable in its breadth of effects that it can cause. It is one of the most potent and is often described as the most, one of the most potent carcinogens ever tested in our country,” said Stephen Lester with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
That’s how Lester describes dioxins. He is a Harvard-educated chemist who has been an activist for 42 years, starting at Love Canal in New York. He says he wants to see a testing plan that lays out exactly how, where and what they are testing for.
“There’s a standard suite of 17 dioxins and furans that I would expect is what they would look for,” Lester said.
He also wants to see testing for a wider spread of chemicals because he says more chemicals would have been created during the burning process.
“The most toxic is a chemical with the acronym TCDD, which stands for tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. It is the element that was found in Agent Orange that made Agent Orange so toxic,” Lester said.
Recently, Lester sat on a panel for River Valley Organizing and answered questions from worried residents.
Amanda Kiger, who runs River Valley Organizing, has similar concerns, but says she doesn’t think the dioxin testing would be happening without community pushback.
“This is really indicative of folks who feel like we’re powerless. This shows absolutely we’re not. We made noise. We called out their foolery and now they’re doing as we asked,” Kiger said.