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Heil Harvard!
Tipsheet

'There's the Lie': Chemical Expert Identifies What Officials Are Wrong About in East Palestine

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Following the derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals earlier this month, residents were temporarily evacuated so a controlled burn could take place. But according to one chemical expert who traveled to the beleaguered town to conduct an independent analysis of the soil, air, and water, that’s a “lie.”

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“It wasn’t a controlled burn. It was an uncontrolled burn,” independent environmental scientist and chemical spill expert Stephen Petty said. “In hazardous waste situations, they very carefully control the temperature and the amount of oxygen so they get complete combustion…so it’s not a controlled burn because a controlled burn would have to be like in a furnace or in your car or in some system where you control the fuel… the vinyl chloride and the amount of oxygen. So they didn’t do that.”


He said one of the ways to determine if there’s been exposure is whether there's an odor. Many residents reported noxious smells, which they said caused headaches and other problems like nausea, rashes, burning eyes, and more. 

Thousands of fish and other wildlife also died in the days following the burn.  

“My view is that it was a bad decision to release it and burn it,” Petty said, adding that all that’s been tested for so far are VOCs, which is “not a specific chemical.”

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“That doesn’t tell me anything other than you’re measuring carbon,” he said. 


Petty, who’s been an expert witness in many top environmental class action lawsuits in the U.S., claimed the government is measuring “things that don’t really matter.” 

“What I want to know is vinyl chloride. What is the individual component? So, they purposefully measure with a cheaper instrument total hydrocarbons, but I want to know what the components are.” 

 

“The public can handle negative news, they just want the truth,” Petty said. “It’s not wrong to tell them we don’t know yet.”

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