The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been on net web page in East Palestine due to the truth the Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemical compounds derailed there final month. Contemplating that that time, residents in the neighborhood have reported all round well being symptoms, even as agencies like the EPA say their tests have shown no unsafe levels of chemical compounds.
EPA has come under criticism from some scientists for not testing for the appropriate chemical compounds. It is also been criticized by U.S. Senator J.D. Vance additional than its handling of hazardous waste at the net web page. The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier spoke with Mark Durno, the EPA’s onsite coordinator in East Palestine. He asked Durno to clarify the agency’s testing protocols.
LISTEN to the interview
https://www.alleghenyfront.org/wp-content material material/uploads/2023/02/AF031723RF_EPAresponse.mp3
Reid Frazier: There’s been a lot of issues about testing of the air, soil and water about East Palestine. Males and females are experiencing symptoms, and but they retain hearing that the testing reveals levels that appear to be safe. Can you lay out how all of this testing is determined?
Mark Durno: We’re under what we make contact with a unified command. And the unified command suggests agencies who have duty, who have a stake in what’s taking location, are making selections and taking action on the ground. And we’ve permitted the railroad, Norfolk Southern, to be element of that unified command given that it is their home and their duty in the finish to make the neighborhood complete after once again.
So there’s monitoring, and there’s sampling going on. But what you are genuinely discovering at is why do we have this discrepancy amongst what we’re saying in terms of the safety of off-net web page air releases and the difficulties that the neighborhood has about lingering all round well being troubles.
So the initially piece of it is we have to adhere to sound science. We have action levels for the volatile organic chemical compounds that we’ve been monitoring about the net web page offsite and in people’s residences. And all to date, the only larger levels of volatile organic chemical compounds that we’re seeing due to the truth the evacuation was lifting, is onsite. We’re not seeing some thing sustained in the neighborhoods. That is the science side of it.
But then there’s the neighborhood side of it. And, you know, you can’t deny what the neighborhood is experiencing. Some of the neighborhood members are experiencing all round well being effects. There was a all round well being clinic — there nonetheless is a all round well being clinic — set up to help residents who have who are possessing all round well being troubles. The guidance that we give to the neighborhood members is mainly primarily based on science. We have visited residences precisely exactly where residents have knowledgeable some all round well being troubles. We’ve monitored the inside of these residences, and we haven’t noticed any volatile organic contaminants in these residences to date.
Now, the exception there surely, is when we enter a house precisely exactly where there’s men and women these days that have been active smoking — cigarettes in the house — we will see some slight uptick of VOCs, which is common cigarette smoke. But we are not seeing some thing straight connected to vinyl chloride or the other contaminants of concern. So it is that is a challenging query to answer when it comes to all round well being effects given that all round well being impacts can be coming from so many many sources.
Frazier: So some researchers from Purdue University say that not all the chemical compounds that have been detected on net web page are in truth obtaining actively tested for by the EPA and other agencies. Is that right? And how does the EPA respond to that?
Durno: I saw the news reports on that. I haven’t noticed any written reports or data and information, so I genuinely can’t comment on what they assume that we’re we are or are not sampling for that may well possibly be in conflict with their reports.
💡NEW Appropriate now: We reviewed government air and water chemical testing data and identified a extreme foundational dilemma in the earlier/ongoing response. @EPA
Agencies are not testing for the extremely identical chemical compounds.
This inhibits selections to safeguard #publichealth.
Course correct necessary.
— Andrew Whelton 🔥💧❄️🌪 (@TheWheltonGroup) March 13, 2023
Frazier: These Purdue researchers say that one particular distinct element that is been identified in the air but hasn’t been tested in the water is the hazardous chemical acrolein. Are you testing for that?
Durno: So we are testing for the acrolein family members members of chemical compounds. As soon as once again, I haven’t noticed any reports from them. I do not know that EPA has noticed reports. And that is genuinely challenging for us to comment on that.
But we are we have been in search of at acroleins and acrylates. Ohio EPA has the crucial oversight function on all the function that is going on in the rivers. And I have an understanding of that the Purdue function was completed with respect to the waterways that have been impacted. So we can confirm in with the Ohio EPA on the comprehensive extent of their sampling, their water monitoring and so forth.
Frazier: Norfolk Southern has hired an environmental consulting firm, the Center for Toxicology and Environmental General well being, which was named by ProPublica, the go-to contractor for corporations accountable for industrial disasters, and which has been accused, quote, of repeatedly downplaying all round well being dangers. Now, CTA is undertaking testing for Norfolk Southern. Does this concern you as far as supplying the public self-self-assurance in the outcomes of testing?
Durno: So the corporation that is in query, we see them on net web pages like this all the time. We’ve completed lots of, sadly lots of railroad disasters or train derailments. They have a host of air monitoring gear and personnel who have the extremely identical talent sets that we have. So from a ground monitoring standpoint, I assume that the data that they’re creating, given that we’re overseeing that data, is top rated high-quality data.
Frazier: Can you update us on the soil cleanup? We have Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, a Republican, criticizing the EPA for not discovering contaminated soil off the net web page quickly adequate. He’s also accused the administration of stopping shipment of waste to Michigan given that Democratic elected officials there had objected to it. What is taking location with the waste, and is there any truth to Senator Vance’s allegations?
Durno: Material is moving offsite. The corporation lastly got a contract in place with a disposal facility to commence sending considerable amounts of material offsite. So you are going to start off out to see trucks moving extra and extra every single single day.
You asked about what occurred in Michigan. We’ve had pretty a handful of disposal facilities ask us to pause operations. Some of that was due to some of the issues that we have been discovering from elected officials. The explanation that we stopped was given that there was a concern about the level of chemical evaluation that was completed on the waste piles. So to alleviate fears and difficulties, we asked for additional sampling to be performed, which it was.
We have been capable to clearly demonstrate that the level of contamination was appropriate for the kind of disposal that was taking location. And now trucks are moving after once again. We are nonetheless hopeful that the corporation can get some extra contracts in place with other facilities and in some of the other states.
You described Michigan. We’re hoping Oklahoma opens up. But after once again, we’ll see how that goes amongst the corporation and the facilities. And surely, in all of our states, the elected leaders want to make good that what’s coming to their states is appropriate for the disposal obtaining performed.
Frazier: I imply, just to location a finer point on it, did the Democratic elected officials in Michigan hold any bigger sway on this choice-making than other states?
Durno: I can’t assume that. But at my level, I do not know the answer.
Mark Durno is U.S. EPA’s onsite coordinator in East Palestine, Ohio.
Note: The Ohio EPA, the state agency there, described in an e-mail that it is in search of closely at what’s been detected in surface water and released at the derailment net web page and is adjusting its list of chemical compounds to test for as new data and information comes in.
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