Senators J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its state counterpart. They requested more information regarding the potential spread of a compound in East Palestine, Ohio that can cause cancer.
The two Ohio Senators came together and warned EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel that the combustion of vinyl chloride can lead to the formation of dioxins. Dioxins are highly toxic compounds that are “persistent environmental pollutants.”
They cited EPA information and noted that dioxins can interfere with hormones and cause cancer, and reproductive and developmental problems. Dioxins can also damage an exposed individual’s immune system.
Vance and Brown asked whether the agencies tested for dioxins and asked for more information regarding the federal and state protocols for handling mass dioxin exposure.
“Following our visits to East Palestine this past week where we heard directly from members of the community, we remain concerned that it does not appear that the U.S. EPA, OEPA, or Norfolk Southern is testing for dioxins,” Vance and Brown wrote.
“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 larger area,” the letter added.
In addition to questions about the agencies testing for dioxin, they demanded that their questions be answered by February 24. They ended the letter and demanded that both agencies coordinate an immediate testing regimen to ensure regular testing for dioxins in the region.
“This monitoring should not only be a part of a long-term strategy, it should be implemented immediately and communicated to the local community to ensure transparency,” the senators said.
After the derailment of the train in Ohio, the train’s Norfolk Southern opted to release the chemical to avoid a massive explosion. Residents of the town were asked to evacuate during the release but were all assured that the area was safe to return to six days later, on February 9.
The EPA, the Ohio EPA, and Norfolk Southern contractors have conducted tests and have assured residents the water and air are safe.
However, locals are not comforted by the answers or lack of answers, they have received. Locals are worried about their long-term health and also the environmental damage the chemical release could have caused.
“This really looks like a nuclear winter,” Sil Caggiano, a local hazardous materials specialist, told Fox News last week. “Pretty much, yeah, we nuked this town with chemicals.”
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A train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3. It has been reported that about 15,000 pounds of contaminated soil and 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water have been excavated from the site of the train derailment.
Even though the agencies assured people everything was safe, dead fish have been cropping up in bodies of water around East Palestine. Many people’s animals in surrounding areas have also been dying suddenly.
A resident said she has felt off since the derailment and release of chemicals.
“As far as any side effects, I’ve had a headache and just the odd tingling sensation like in the gums and on my lips occasionally,” East Palestine resident Linda Murphy said.
“But I know that some other residents are experiencing things of a similar nature, and a lot of children are having some issues with rashes, discoloration of the skin. My brother-in-law actually went to the hospital and got checked out. He was having some severe symptoms, some breathing issues.”