Photo by Atypeek Dgn:

East Palestine’s Dioxin Pollution

5 April 2023

2.5 MINS

A month ago, I commented on Erin Brockovich’s response to the environmental disaster caused by a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, USA. Today I want to bring the people of East Palestine back into our minds and hearts as their pain is not going away any time soon.

What has actually happened to East Palestine, Ohio, USA after the devastating train derailment on 3 February 2023? The residents are still reeling:

I just can’t see how these people (Norfolk Southern) can’t have any type of sympathy.

It’s as if human nature has lost the natural compassion we would expect for victims of a tragedy. It’s as if the compassion genes have been removed to protect corporate genes.

Their attitude has been diminished; destroying an entire town is now just the cost of doing business.

Norfolk Southern’s share price is way down now (not surprising), but traders are seeing this as an ideal time to buy as they are bound to rise! So the corporates now conduct loss/profit comparisons and calculate, in the long run, they can make money out of this disaster!

By the grace of God, please get our people out, I am begging you!

An impassioned male resident, politely, but loudly, implores the authorities at yet another public meeting.

You think politics don’t involve you until they involve you.

An articulate young woman resident. I think this is a warning to all of us wherever we live. In these days, we all need to get involved in politics.

It takes a lot to go toe-to-toe with a $55 billion dollar company.

What would you do? What would I do, if we were faced with this scenario? I get the distinct feeling that it’s not government bureaucracies these people are up against — they are largely impotent. No, the real powers behind the thrones are corporate governance, the politicians are way down the food chain.

Finally today, I want to report on some independent testing done for the residents of East Palestine on the dioxin levels in their soils. (I have not checked the source documents myself, if you have the expertise to do so I would be pleased to hear from you in the comments below.)

Norfolk Southern organised a controlled burn of the toxic chemicals on 8 February 2023, five days after the derailment. I understand that this was specifically an incineration of vinyl chloride to prevent an explosion. I understand that burning such chemicals in the atmosphere creates dioxins, perhaps one the most carcinogenic pollutant known to man.

The US federal threshold level of dioxin pollution to trigger a clean-up is 1000 parts per trillion (ppt). But many states have established much stricter measures. For example, Michigan has a threshold of 90 ppt and California has it at 50 ppt. The independent survey has detected the level of dioxin in East Palestine as 700 ppt. The Federal Government’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment (2010) of cancer risk to humans was anything greater than 3.7 ppt.

Norfolk Southern — charged with all the testing and clean-up work so far — have not been testing for dioxin.

If these figures prove quite correct, it would seem that an entire town and its people could be destroyed.

Our Response

Deuteronomy 22 sets out how the Israelites were to treat disasters befalling their fellow Israelites. They were to do all they could, within their power to help, certainly to have sympathy for their suffering. I would argue this attitude underpins our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Let’s pray for all parties involved in this tragedy that grace and transparency will shine through, and that God will provide protection, and healing where needed, for the people of East Palestine.


It proved very hard to sift through many reports to find ones that were least biased. We might think a tragedy like this would be receiving bipartisan support. Sadly this does not seem to be happening in divided America.


Photo by Atypeek Dgn.

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  1. Leonie Robson 5 April 2023 at 8:52 am - Reply

    These poor dear people Jim… just heartbreaking stuff.
    If anyone ever doubts the corruption in the Biden administration, what has gone down in this little town (irrelevant to the powerful) is the perfect example of it.
    Thanks for your timely reminder that today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chip paper.

  2. Kaylene Emery 5 April 2023 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you Jim. We must face yet another example of generalised contempt for human life. Another example of the demonic force trying to dominate us.
    May God grant us the grace to refuse to comply with such contempt.

  3. Jim Twelves 9 April 2023 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Kaylene, thank you for reading this. Its really hard when most folks I talk to about this have ‘never heard’ of it. If you have never heard, that’s not contempt but can be construed as such . My aim is to keep this tragedy in the public.

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