The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins in East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a February 3 train wreck that caused a massive release of chemicals. Dioxins are a class of highly toxic contaminants that could have formed in the chemical burnoff of the wreckage. They’re found in Agent Orange and have been linked to some of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, including the poisoning of the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, in the 1970s. The EPA’s order came as residents confronted a representative for Norfolk Southern at a town hall meeting in East Palestine Thursday evening.
East Palestine resident: “This has touched me on every level. This has touched my family. This has touched my friends. This has touched my farm. This has touched my animals. This has touched my finances. This has touched my home. And it will touch me to the cellular level if I get diagnosed with cancer, ALS or whatever is going to come down the road if I stay in this contaminated, toxic town. And you all know it.”
On Wednesday, union leaders representing rail workers wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and other officials, blasting Norfolk Southern for risking the health of workers at the crash site and not providing personal protective equipment as they clean up. The letter states that workers “continue to experience migraines and nausea, days after the derailment, and they all suspect that they were willingly exposed to these chemicals at the direction of Norfolk Southern.”