February 1, 2024 

Over 1,500 Pages of East Palestine Dioxin-Related Testing Found Buried on EPA Website  

WASHINGTON – Recently, our whistleblower client and independent scientist, Scott Smith, discovered dioxin and related testing done by Norfolk Southern paid consultant, Arcadis, and involving the EPA that began on February 9, 2023. The finding this week revealed Norfolk Southern and their consultants sampled soil and water and found elevated levels of dioxin and other dangerous compounds in East Palestine as early as February 9, 2023.   

Despite the EPA claiming the dioxin levels on East Palestine were, at first non-existent and then safe, along with other chemicals, for residents, these documents are evidence that Arcadis performed dioxin and other chemical testing as early as February 9th that showed concerning levels of these chemicals. By burying them in thousands of pages of responsive documents posted on the EPA website, the agency continued to deny the need to test for dioxins and these other chemicals including air testing in homes and soil testing at homes.  The EPA officially stated that they started dioxin testing in March, while knowing there was dioxin testing already completed in February, after pressure from lawmakers, scientists and the public.   

The EPA has continued to tell the public that the community and their homes are safe while refusing to test the interior of their homes for dioxins and other volatile organic chemicals and semi volatile organic compounds along with soil testing. 

The testing from February 17 shows dioxin TEQ concentrations at 91.9 parts per trillion, 19 times higher than the 4.8 parts per trillion residential screening level, which is the level at which immediate follow up sampling is required.  

Although some of these tests may have been characterized as “waste” and buried on the EPA website, these tests results appear to show the fingerprint identity of the dangerous chemicals from the toxic plume along with concerning levels from the plume fallout that was deposited in and around East Palestine. The EPA was not transparent in communicating these testing results directly to the community and the fact that dioxin testing began on February 9, 2023. 

This comes as we continue to wait for an additional 2,000 documents in relation to our previous public records request to the EPA concerning communications regarding our whistleblower client Scott Smith and his independent dioxin testing in East Palestine. We also are awaiting documents from our FOIA on EPA’s communications with Facebook about Smith, and residents in East Palestine. In addition, another FOIA was filed Tuesday  regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and their lack of communication about the East Palestine unmet needs report due to President Biden weeks ago.   

On Saturday, February 3, the one-year anniversary of the train derailment, people will be gathering with scientists, residents, whistleblowers, and others to learn about the effects of the burning chemicals in East Palestine as well as the EPA’s malfeasance in caring for and cleaning up the community. More shocking new details will be revealed at the presentation concerning the newly uncovered documents, independent testing results, and other results of our investigation. Speakers include Smith, our Environmental Investigator, Lesley Pacey, as well as Erin Brockovich and Science Director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Stephen Lester.   

These discoveries and efforts are made possible by incredibly strong and brave whistleblowers, like Scott Smith. Through his fearless whistleblowing, we have learned about the true levels of toxic chemicals in the East Palestine community in the air, water, surfaces and subsurface. We also have filed FOIAs to uncover the truth the government’s response and launched an investigation into the true impact of the horrific accident in the small Midwest community.  

Whistleblower client, Scott Smith, commented: “It is unfortunate that the EPA and Norfolk Southern refused to sit down with me and exchange, in reciprocity, detailed testing information per my e-mail to them on July 27,2023.  Despite the smear and defamation campaigns launched against me by the EPA and Norfolk Southern, I would still welcome the opportunity to meet with the EPA and Norfolk Southern to go over detailed testing reports in reciprocity for the benefit of the East Palestine community.” 

Lesley Pacey, Environmental Investigator, stated: “We are thankful for Scott Smith and his efforts to find the truth for the people of East Palestine. That perseverance led to multiple trips to East Palestine to test for dioxins and other toxins as well as the discovery of documents that clearly show the EPA and Norfolk Southern tested for and were aware of the presence of dioxin contamination in East Palestine long before bowing to public pressure to test for dioxins. It’s stunning to see that the EPA found harmful levels of dioxins in East Palestine when they were pushing the false narrative that dioxin testing was not needed in East Palestine. They should have warned residents and announced these findings publicly. Instead, they made the unconscionable decision to continue to claim dioxin levels are not concerning and the community is safe from chemicals spilled and burned after the derailment.”  



Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director   

Email: [email protected]   

Phone: 202-449-6042   


Government Accountability Project   

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.