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Norfolk Southern ordered to test for dioxins at Ohio train derailment site

US railroad company ordered to sample for dioxins at Ohio train derailment site
Source: Video Screenshot

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed Norfolk Southern to conduct direct dioxin testing in East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed last month.

The announcement on Thursday came nearly a month after a Norfolk Southern train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed in East Palestine.

Responders later “controlled release” some of those chemicals to prevent a larger explosion at the site, raising concerns about pollution in the area, according to the Xinhua news agency.

“If dioxins are found at a level that poses any unacceptable risk to human health and the environment, EPA will direct the immediate cleanup of the area as needed,” the agency said in a statement.

Furthermore, the EPA stated that Norfolk Southern will be required to conduct a background study comparing any dioxin levels near East Palestine to dioxin levels in other areas not affected by the train derailment.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve sat with East Palestine residents and community leaders in their homes, businesses, churches, and schools,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “I’ve heard their fears and concerns directly.”

According to the EPA, as of February 28, it had collected at least 115 samples in the potentially impacted area, including 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,” the agency stated. “EPA’s air has detected only low levels of 1,4-dichlorobenzene typical of ambient background concentrations.”

Dioxins may be found in any urban or rural environment as a result of common processes such as burning wood or coal, according to the EPA.

According to the EPA, dioxins can be found in any urban or rural environment as a result of common processes such as burning wood or coal.

It was noted that because dioxins degrade slowly in the environment, the source ofound in any area may be uncertain.

The incident, which occurred on the night of February 3, involved 11 tank cars transporting hazardous materials, which subsequently ignited, igniting fires that damaged an additional 12 non-derailment railcars.

First responders established a one-mile evacuation zone around the derailment site, affecting up to 2,000 people.

The fire was put out by responders on February 5, according to the NTSB report. However, authorities remained concerned about five derailed “specification tank cars carrying 115,580 gallons of vinyl chloride” because the temperature inside one tank car was still rising.

According to the NTSB, responders later scheduled a “controlled venting” of the five vinyl chloride tank cars to release and burn the vinyl chloride, as well as dug ditches to contain the released vinyl chloride liquid as it vaporised and burned.

The controlled venting began on February 6, which discharged toxic and potentially deadly fumes into the air.

While residents were allowed to return to their homes in East Palestine two days later, they remain concerned about the handling of the incident as well as the health impact of exposure to those chemicals.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he will visit East Palestine “at some point”.

“I’ve spoken with every official in Ohio, Democrat and Republican, on a continuing basis, as in Pennsylvania,” he told reporters.

“I laid out a little bit in there what I think the answers are and we will be implementing an awful lot to the legislation here… I will be out there at some point.”



About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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