EPA Announces New ‘Work Plan’ for East Palestine 7 Months Later

Rich McHugh | September 13, 2023 | News Nation Now

Minutes after workers burned five tankers of vinyl chloride after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, a toxic plume of smoke smothered the area for miles.

Residents scrambled to get away, worried for their health and safety.

Now, seven months later, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new “work plan” — which, for the first time since the derailment, broadens the scope of possible contamination.

The plan outlines a need to “evaluate potential background contaminant sources.”

In a statement to NewsNation, the EPA called the work plan a “‘double-check’ to ensure that contamination did not spread as a result of response activities.”

“This does not indicate a concern that contamination from the derailment may have affected a larger area,” the statement read.

But this is what residents have been saying all along: The contamination spread. The proof is in community members are sick and those same residents continue to face growing challenges post-derailment.

Hilary Flint, who lives four miles from the derailment site, said her family evacuated the night of the derailment. But when they returned the following day, it only took opening the front door for the strong smell of chemicals to take over.

The scent was so strong that Flint invited experts from Wayne State University to test her soil and inside her home.

“That ended up being the proof that inside my home was affected,” Flint said.

Experts discovered ethylhexyl acrylate, a known carcinogen, and vinyl chloride. Both chemicals were being transported on the train at the time of the derailment.

They also found dioxins, what some call the fentanyl of chemicals.

But the EPA told Flint it couldn’t determine whether her property was safe.

“Bottom line – I can’t state that a property is below a health safety threshold unless enough data is collected on a single property, along with a comprehensive risk assessment, to make a determination like this,” the EPA wrote in an email.

The statement continued: “I can state that the data collected/reported falls within levels expected on urban or suburban properties.”

Regardless, the EPA would not individually test her property.

“They keep saying that none of the properties are actually damaged. You don’t know that because you didn’t even come out and test anything,” Flint said.

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