EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, spoke to East Palestine residents Monday about ways he wants to keep helping the community.
Brown says he is pushing the EPA to make sure contaminants are cleaned up correctly.
During the meeting, residents shared their frustrations with the lack of answers and health concerns. One of the residents’ bigger concerns — dioxins — which the EPA says they will not be testing for.
“I want the EPA to test for whatever is important, but I’m not a scientist. I don’t know everything they should test for,” Brown said.
Oda Sponsel said she has felt sick and thinks it’s related to the derailment, but her doctors can’t test for potential chemical exposure.
“We want the soil tested. We want dioxins tested. We want our blood tested, our urine tested. We can have all the press conferences in the world, but the folks here in East Palestine are not being heard,” Sponsel said.
Andrew Whelton is a researcher from Purdue University and is in town doing testing. He says he’s still trying to find out from the Ohio and federal EPA what contaminants they’re testing for in the drinking water.
“They need to put all the data on the table. All the data on the table, and they have not done that,” Whelton said.
Whelton added concerns about dioxins — which are a carcinogen — in the soil are justified based on what burned in the derailment.
Today, Debra Shore with the federal EPA said testing for dioxins is difficult.
“We don’t have baseline information for dioxins. They can be caused by wildfires, grilling or normal activities in human life. Without that information, it would be hard to attribute any of those levels to the derailment,” she said.
This past weekend, Shore said that they may test for it in the future.
“The federal and state agencies need to delineate why they made the decisions they made. Why are they testing for things they’re testing for and why aren’t they looking for other things,” Whelton said.
Brown said that he will push for continued safety regulations for railroads addressing issues like the frequency of hot boxes and crew safety.