Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Is a Blockchain Thingy

I had no idea—until I read this incredibly jargon-filled article:

Squid is a cross-chain liquidity and messaging router that swaps across multiple chains and their native DEXs via axlUSDC.

So there.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Posted on February 10, 2023 at 5:11 PM169 Comments


vas pup February 10, 2023 5:29 PM

Israeli blockchain firm develops ‘fire prevention’ tech to thwart FTX-style fraud

“With the collapse of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX still sending shivers through the industry and fueling consumer mistrust, an Israeli multi-billion-dollar startup is making its “uncheatable” blockchain transaction technology available for mass adoption in hopes of preventing the next fraud scandal.

Netanya-based StarkWare, which is valued at $8 billion, is the developer of a technology that compresses and speeds up blockchain transactions. Israeli computer scientist Prof. Eli Ben-Sasson is the mathematical brain behind the Stark technology, which is a proof system based on cryptography and modern algebra powering its two networks, StarkEx and the “blockchain internet” called StarkNet, used for blockchain applications and processing transactions.

The blockchain startup this week gathered a crowd of about 700 crypto developers and coders from around the world in Tel Aviv, where Ben-Sasson, co-founder and president of StarkWare, announced that !!!!!!!the core software powering the networks will be open-sourced, meaning that it will be made a public good. It can be used as an infrastructure for all the things that can be deployed today on blockchain, such as payments, exchanges, gaming, NFTs or non-fungible tokens, voting, and governance. Visa Inc., the credit card firm is trying out the tech for making automatic crypto payments.

StarkWare says that its technology, geared to make blockchain scalable for mass adoption, handles more transactions than Bitcoin.

“We’re seeing this Stark technology, which most people haven’t heard of but which will soon underpin the apps we all use, becoming public property,” said Itamar Lesuisse, co-founder and CEO at Argent, a company that built a smart wallet using StarkNet. “This is huge. It’s driving the growth of a big community of people from all over the world who are excited to build on this infrastructure.”

[NB!]”“We’re collectively saying: Let’s shift the paradigm in crypto from ‘please don’t be evil’ to ‘the tech means you just can’t be evil,” said Lesuisse, who was one of the speakers at the blockchain event.

Blockchain is the database technology underlying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies allowing for the use of peer-to-peer payment systems. It runs by recording transactions as “blocks” that are updated in real time on a digitized ledger without a central record keeper. Many entrepreneurs and computer scientists see enormous potential of using blockchain for real-world applications as money and other assets can be transferred from person to person without going through a central authority.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that can be exchanged between people without the involvement of intermediaries, like banks or governments. Blockchain is the distributed public ledger that allows these cryptocurrencies to change hands without someone making digital copies of the currency or otherwise tampering with the record of data or ownership.

“We live in a period in which more and more of our financial interactions are mediated by a very small number of very big companies or banks, and there is a growing understanding that it’s not good that all of our money flows are run through Google Pay, or Visa, or banks and that all of our social connections are run through Facebook or Twitter, or Instagram,” said Ben-Sasson. !!!“What blockchain does is really allow us to return to the peer-to-peer nature of social and economic interactions, but do so over the internet.” [Big Brother hates such idea a lot under pretext of National Security – VP].

According to Ben-Sasson, what happened at FTX and with other similar catastrophic failures is that people handed over control of funds to the exchange and were promised that they wouldn’t be misappropriated.

“Now, our technology uses the blockchain to enforce self-custodial trading, meaning that the customers working over our technology always are in control of their funds so it is impossible to misappropriate funds over our technology,” he explained.”

dj February 10, 2023 5:45 PM

How many squids are there now?

This could cause people to confuse squidrouter with the squid-cache proxy.

I doubt it is accidental.

Could squidrouter be planning to assert a trademark claim against

Nick Levinson February 10, 2023 11:33 PM

ChatGPT-like AI fudging content boundaries in search engine results: I suspect this will be a problem.

A precisian (scientist, amateur, or whomever) will make a precise statement. I worry that this technology will combine sources that have similar content and effectively lose the precision. I worry that a scientific peer-reviewed paper will be merged with a news report about the paper in which the news producer popularized the expression of what was in the paper. E.g.: A while back, various reports told us that scientific tests showed that people cannot multitask (they perform worse). While that likely was true of most car drivers, I did not hear of those tests being performed on toddlers’ hands-on parents or on pilots of transport category (i.e., large) aircraft during takeoffs and landings, all of whom multitask for hours; and toddlers and passengers come out okay. Probably the refereed papers usually reported relatively clear boundaries for their results and the popular press mostly reported only the general idea, the gist. I hope future SERPs separate the two.

I’m not looking forward to ChatGPT-like AI feeding my SERPs, although I think Google search is very good overall and Google knows what it’s doing, so if they implement it they’ll likely do it well. I doubt Microsoft will do as well despite their likely have good programming talent (I think MS’s problems are mainly in their business decisions influencing their products); I usually steer clear of Bing.

AI for search is probably good in principle, but ChatGPT-like AI so far seems to be too problematic.

Onanism February 11, 2023 1:18 AM

Just finished A Hacker’s Mind, and it’s excellent. Surprised, though, that it left out arguably the single greatest biological hack of all time.

lurker February 11, 2023 12:51 PM

For the hurricane watchers: the girl for the weekend is Gabrielle. Currently downgraded to Cat.2, but still tracking to pass less than 100km NE of here in next 24hrs. We really don’t need any more rain …

vas pup February 11, 2023 4:37 PM

Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm bars Kyiv from using Starlink tech for drone control

“SpaceX has limited Ukraine’s ability to use its satellite internet service for military purposes – after reports that Kyiv has used it to control drones.

Early in the war, Ukraine was given thousands of SpaceX Starlink dishes – which connect to satellites and help people stay connected to the internet.

But it is also said to have used the tech to target Russian positions – breaking policies set out by SpaceX.

At an event in Washington DC on Wednesday, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell explained that
==>Starlink technology was “never meant to be weaponized”.

She made reference to Ukraine’s alleged use of Starlink to control drones, and stressed that the
==>equipment had been provided for humanitarian use.

Unmanned aircraft have played an important role in the war, having been used by Kyiv to search out Russian troops, drop bombs and counter Moscow’s own drone attacks.

Ms Shotwell confirmed that it was acceptable for the Ukrainian military for deploy Starlink technology “for comms”, but said her ==>intent was “never to have them use it for offensive purposes”.

She said the company had taken steps to “limit” the abilities of the Ukrainian armed forces to use Starlink in an offensive way – without giving further details.”

I doubt it will work for Elon Musk: deep state will find how to twist his hand to follow what they want in the same way as China did to Jack Ma.

By the way, Starlink is private company not a charitable organization.

If I were establishment I’ll think twice before do something like this. Our DOD and our national security are highly depend on his technologies. And ‘America First’ should be motto not other way around. Just personal opinion.

vas pup February 11, 2023 5:05 PM

High-tech search and rescue – [attention DHS/FEMA – vp]

“After an earthquake, the clock ticks as emergency personnel and first responders try to locate survivors buried beneath collapsed buildings. Search and rescue operations are by nature very hazardous. But projects like the EU-sponsored CURSOR could soon make them safer — and much more effective.”

US could benefit from this good technology for hidden tunnel searching at our South border. Same is relevant for Israel.

vas pup February 11, 2023 5:52 PM

HMS Queen Elizabeth chases away Chinese spy submarine

“The Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth has tracked down and chased off a Chinese spy submarine, in footage captured by documentary makers.

A two-minute-long excerpt from a BBC documentary shows how naval officers aboard the aircraft carrier discovered the foreign vessel using state of the art sonobuoys.

Sonobuoys are small sonar devices dropped into the water
!!!to pick up engine and propeller sounds from submarines.

Officers are seen rapidly deploying a helicopter which drops another payload of sonobuoys into the water to accurately triangulate the vessel.

!!!Enemy submarines will often lie underneath commercial fishing vessels, on the very edge of Britain’s 12-mile nautical border, and use the roar of the ship’s engines to mask their presence.

In November, the Chinese deployed a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles on nuclear submarines capable of hitting the =>US from the safety of its own waters.

All six of China’s nuclear-powered submarines have been equipped with new JL-3 missiles, which reportedly have a range of up to =>7,500 miles, dramatically increasing China’s ability to strike US territory.”

Question: is it possible to record/pick up engine and propeller sounds from submarine, put recording on multiple underwater small drones and then emit those sounds into the water to trick sonobuoys by fake targets?

Same do with sounds of the roar of the ship’s engines to mask submarines with fake targets?

Tip O’Neill February 12, 2023 12:05 AM

Another glaring omission in A Hacker’s Mind.

Speaking on defense against cognitive hacks, Bruce omits one of the simplest solutions of all: quit social media.

Every cognitive hack he mentions happens on social media, yet I can’t think of a single reason anyone needs to use those platforms.

News? News sites. Contact? Text or e-mail. Sex? Go to a bar. Political action? Join a group — clicktivism doesn’t work anyway.

The idea that you should trust a sociopathic algorithm between you and the world has always seemed so bizarre to me that I have a hard time understanding those who talk about improving those services. It’s like working on an anti-cancer drug when you smoke, drink and subsist on Ring Dings.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2023 5:10 AM

@ lurker, ALL,

“the girl for the weekend is Gabrielle”

I hear she has bestowed a kiss at the north of the north.

I’m now out of hospital[1], and trying to play catchup on information including what is going on in the world. I have found that a week of near issolation from information is actually mentally debilitating in it’s own right and now requires it’s own rehabilitation period…

[1] The explanation for my spectacular near demise is in two parts…

Firstly I am obviously to blaim because I have too many normally minor medical conditions that all fight each other to be top dog major issues.

Secondly this grevious fault of mine has led the medical proffession asstray and they yet again got the medications wrong.

Apparently “diagnose, prescribe and follow up to check for harm” is nolonger the way the medical proffession rolls… How unscientific of them, we will be back to chicken bones tossing and fresh entrail examination soon… So in preperation for the latter will all goats form an orderly line on the left and everyone else keep your now increasingly rare left overs from your fried chicken suppers 😉

Winter February 12, 2023 8:03 AM


Apparently “diagnose, prescribe and follow up to check for harm” is nolonger the way the medical proffession rolls…

Always be an annoying patient who asks about all eventualities and calls back when anything unexpected or unwanted happens.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2023 11:23 AM

@ Winter,

“Always be an annoying patient…”

I already scare doctors because I read the actual drug information and sufficiently understand it to question their actions.

It happened again when I was in hospital tgis past week…

I’m prescribed a drug which is a “proton pump inhibitor” because of the number of anti-coagulation drugs I’m on. Like the anti-inflamatory I have to take for one of the anticoag meds side effects. BUT… unlike the anti-inflammatory I don’t need the “proton pump inhibitor” it’s the Doctors wallpapering their sit upons because a Government agency says they have to prescribe it…

The thing is the drug has not just side effects but interactions. One side effect is it gives you gas and other gut unpleasantness and an interaction is you can not take certain antibiotics (which covers the antibiotics I don’t have problems with).

Now whilst I’ve nearly died a couple of times from not being able to take antibiotics, I’ve not heard of anyone getting close to dying of reflux.

Now in the datasheet for the “proton pump inhibitor” it clearly says it is to be taken on an empty stomach a couple of hours befor food is eaten otherwise it fails to work. That is it should be taken a couple of hours before the first meal of the day for the ordinary person.

So the hospital computer “OK’s” the issue of the “proton pump inhibitor” with the “drugs round” immediately after breakfast… You can tell that the Doctors were not happy to know this, nor were the Consultants… The Nurses accepted what I told them without me having to show them the data sheet but as they noted they were not alowed to move the drug issue to another time, so had to mark it down as “patient refused”…

This is not the first time I’ve caught the Doctors and the computer they rely on making such a mistake the last time it was for an antibiotic (doxycycline) and iron sulfate given as part of treatment for enemia due to chronic blood loss. To quote NICE,


blockquote>Iron : oral Iron decreases the absorption of oral Doxycycline. Manufacturer advises Doxycycline should be taken 2 to 3 hours after iron.




I suspect that this will not be the last time I notice such issues, and the Doctors and Consultants know this, and whilst most are OK with me being informed and informing, some are most definitely not and get upset…

I work on the hypothesis that,

“If I make mistakes –and I do, I am after all human– I would like to be told before I cause harm such that it can be avoided, and I assume others likewise would wish to be told.”

Sadly my assumption is not always correct.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2023 4:34 PM

@ ALL,

Anyone know what is going on in Ohio E.Palestine a town of about 5k residents?

As I understand a train carrying very dangerous chlorinated organic chemicals got derailed and was set on fire.

But I’m also hearing the train company assisted by local law enforcment effectively blew it all up and as a result a massive fire ball of the nuero toxin dioxin[1] was sprayed upwards all over the surounding area and importantly into the river thus contaminating drinking water for hundreds of miles south of there.

There are reported claims of people saying that the wild life and peoples pets are dying by the hundreds of thousands abd even residents who have stayed insise are reporting synproms of “chemical burns / contamination”.

Also reports of a journalist being falsely accused, assulted, and wrongfully arested, on the false words of a senior state employee (apparently there is camera phone footage of the employee assulting the journalist by hitting him in the chest and forcefully pushing him).

But I can not find anything much about it on US MSM, which is odd but it is tucked away on other nations MSM sites, and a Wikipedia page appears to coroborate what I’m finding “outside of the US”…

[1] As some may know if you burn vinyl chloride with benzine or similar one of the by products is dioxin which has all sorts of very nasty side effects the most noticable being chloroacny. Which is why Putin thought it was a fun chemical to use on a political rival. Ask the people who had the misfortune to be in Seveso, Italy back in 1976. They can certainly tell you what a persistant organic poison can do… In some respects having POP’s areosalised above an area is worse than having a nuclear reactor melt down on your door step… They do not break down naturally and it requires incinerator tempratures over 2000 degrees to burn it which nearly all incinerators can not even get close to which is why there are international agrements not to burn waste that creates them or in other ways release them into the environment, but the EPA is happy to let a rail operator do this…

MarkH February 12, 2023 7:36 PM

Ohio Derailment, Pt 1


To start hind-end first, I anticipate that the best information the world is likely to get about this mess will the report of the National Transportation Safety Board, likely to take a year or two.

NTSB is noted for exemplary thoroughness and impartiality.

Meanwhile, EPA has also established a strong record of impartiality. I confide that what they are reporting conforms to what they know.

Further, for materials known to be hazardous, EPA exposure thresholds are highly conservative.

If they say the well water is safe to drink, I’d drink it.

MarkH February 12, 2023 7:46 PM

Ohio Derailment, Pt 2

The foregoing leaves plenty of possible gaps. For example, the necessarily quick site surveying so far may not be thorough enough to catch all likely hazards, and has perhaps been performed with instruments of less sensitivity and specificity than we would wish.

Residents have been told that their air is safe to breathe (nasty odors and headaches notwithstanding) and that the town’s water supply is safe to drink.

Deaths of fish in a local stream — and sickness or death among animals — likely reflect separate vectors of contamination.

I sure wouldn’t let small kids play outdoors as yet.

MarkH February 12, 2023 7:57 PM

Ohio Derailment, Pt 3

I suspect that Clive may have extrapolated past the evidence with speculation about dioxin. According to Safety Data Sheets for vinyl chloride, the main toxic risks in products of combustion come from hydrogen chloride, phosgene, and CO.

Dioxins are a large family of compounds, with widely varying toxicity. Perhaps burning C2H3Cl (at least, without benzene) produces little or no highly toxic dioxins. The chemistry of the derailment was very different from that of the Seveso disaster.

MarkH February 12, 2023 8:03 PM

Ohio Derailment, Pt 4

Phosgene resulting from the breakdown of chlorinated hydrocarbons was a known industrial hazard for an industry I used to work in. To my knowledge, phosgene dissipates safely in a short time frame.

About the decision to release and burn …

I don’t know the EPA’s role, though that will surely become public. EPA may have approved the action, but I don’t know the process.

The various decision makers in emergency management had a typically tough call to make. Reportedly, the burning of adjacent cars was judged to have affected a vinyl chloride car such that there was significant risk of explosion.

MarkH February 12, 2023 8:12 PM

Ohio Derailment, Pt 5

Unburned vinyl chloride is highly toxic and carcinogenic; explosion of the tank car might have propelled massive chunks of steel many hundreds of meters, and perhaps damaged other tank cars containing hazardous chemicals.

So the nominal choice was, do we (a) risk such an explosive release of VC, or (b) risk dispersion of the witches’ brew from opening the tank car and burning its contents?

By the way, the SDS for vinyl chloride lists “controlled incineration with flue gas scrubbing” as an acceptable disposal method. Obviously, this was uncontrolled burning without scrubbing, but perhaps incineration is permissible because the products of combustion are not of the most extreme toxicity.

MarkH February 12, 2023 8:18 PM

A Note on Trade-Offs

Typically in advocacy, people are focused on something they hate or fear, and imagine that once the Bad Thing is stopped, the world will be filled with unicorns and rainbows.

In Real Life, the alternative is often some different kind of horrible.

I remember reading (in a general aviation forum) that some people hate their local tiny airfield and want it shut down. They imagine pastoral quiet in its place. In reality, a closed airfield is often the ideal site for commercial development into something else the neighbors will hate.

In the fields of security (and safety), choices must often be made among a menu of really disturbing options. Not for the squeamish …

lurker February 12, 2023 9:16 PM

@Clive Robinson
re Gabrielle’s kiss

She’s left the warm tropical waters which downgrades her to an ex-cyclone, but now fed by a temperate jet stream, the ground speed has dropped to about 12km/hr. Winds are varying from an hour of tolerable 80km/hr to three hours of 120 gusting 150km/hr. Rain continous for last 24hrs.

MarkH February 12, 2023 9:36 PM

More Info from Ohio …

The derailment appears to have occurred on Norfolk Southern’s 2-track Ft. Wayne line, which bisects E. Palestine — almost all of which is within 800 m.

An automated defect detector reportedly called an alarm just before the derailment. I’ve read language that emergency stop was initiated (passive voice); whether by the crew or as an automatic response to derailment, I know not.

The reported length of the eastbound train was 2.8 km.

Electrically controlled train brakes — under development and test for many years, and available for sale — would likely have reduced the severity of the accident, and perhaps greatly reduced any release of hazardous materials. The rail industry has long lobbied aggressively against a proposed Federal rule to require such braking systems.

Winter February 13, 2023 2:46 AM


I’m prescribed a drug which is a “proton pump inhibitor” because of the number of anti-coagulation drugs I’m on. …

Don’t they have a pharmacist in your hospital? These interactions are the part where a pharmacist is trained to come in.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2023 3:33 AM

@ Winter,

“Don’t they have a pharmacist in your hospital?”

A good question, but actually the wrong one.

The “Hospital Pharmacy” has been “outsourced” to a US managed organisation, and an electronic system transferes the Dr’s Script directly to them. Where the script is kind of treated the same way as Amazon does an online order.

Apparently it is more “productive” and obviously uses staff that have considerably less cost attached.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2023 3:52 AM

@ lurker,

“Winds are varying from an hour of tolerable 80km/hr to three hours of 120 gusting 150km/hr. Rain continous for last 24hrs.”

Hmm… So rather more than a “wet and windy date on a Saturday night”.

Hopefully the rain will not cause dangerous floding, though I gather the pragmatic approach on the ground has been not just “batten down the hatches” but also “caulk the gaps” with rather more than a “hapenth of tar”. Sand bags, plastic sheeting and wooden hording being the items of choice backed by pumps.

I guess the big unknown is “Power” the most populous city has a historically bad record in respect to keeping the lights on… Thus keeping pumps running could be an issue for many.

I see from flight-info the airport is now fully shut down and nothing is getting in or out, with similar applying to all public transport in the north.

Stay safe.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2023 4:20 AM

@ ALL,

Re : The moon is not a balloon.

Apparently “ET” has not been ruled out in the latest of four missile shoot downs of suspected UAV / UFO on the North American Paciffic coast…

What kind of hospitality is “a missile up the bum” for potential guests? I dun’know what you are all getting so dang do dog crazy over it for 😉

@ ResearcherZero,

Re : Get the “F out of dodge”

Some of my neighbours are Russian and months ago I told them it would be a good idea to get their Parents and other Family members out. Since then atleast one has “lost contact” with family members as censorship / communications shuttering starts to step up a few notches.

No matter what business people are in or their nationality, pragmatically if you can get out of Russia the better your chances in the long term. Whilst Moscow has the illusion of normallacy I’m told it is anything but by someone who works for the city. Likewise regional areas are getting segregated to make conscription and worse easier as communications and transport get shuttered.

It’s getting harder and harder not to assume this is “putting on a war footing” type activities…

If this goes hot, then the traditional comment is,

“May God have mercy on their souls”…

Winter February 13, 2023 4:52 AM


The “Hospital Pharmacy” has been “outsourced” to a US managed organisation, and an electronic system transferes the Dr’s Script directly to them.

That sounds lethal. But I assume that the next step will be to outsource the doctors too to the same company.

It has been a leading principle in US health care that the cheapest treatment is no treatment. [1]

[1] ‘

Perhaps the best evidence for this is the summary by Mr. Edgar Kaiser who indicated in conversation with John Ehrlichman that: the less Kaiser does for patients the more money it makes.

To get the full context you can go to the Nixon Tape archive and review the presentation of the views of Mr. Edgar Kaiser made by John Erlichman (seen standing to the left of Henry Kissinger in the picture below) in conversation with President Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House on February 17th 1971.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2023 7:36 AM

@ Winter,

Re : No work is most profitable.

“It has been a leading principle in US health care that the cheapest treatment is no treatment.”

Yup, they kept me in for over a week, and the discharge summary is to put it mildly is a fantasy. More seriously it leaves out important details and in effect says “all in the patients immagination” ignoring the fact I presentedd with clearly visable physical injuries that are still visable, and that repeated posture tests clearly show that there is a postural hypotension issue in that lifting my arms above my shouldets when standing up to say hail a bus or wash my hair causes my blood presure to slump below critical limits and I go over like a felled redwood.

The reason, my autonomous system detects a change in posture, and trying to correct for it it drives my heart rate above 200bpm, where it just twitches but does not pump blood and so my brain gets starved of oxygen and over I go…

I don’t know who actually filled out the discharge summery but I sincerly doubt I spoke to them before they wrote it, as it’s a nonsense of incorrect details not even logically connected.

Worse very relavent details that could and probably should result in a replacment pacemaker with inbuilt de-fib gets “disappeared”[1]… So the work can be side-stepped without any concern for the safety of the patient.

[1] There are two basic types of heart fibrilation (rapid twitching) atrial or AF that can kill you if left un-ntreated and VF that will kill you from brain damage within a couple of minuites if not de-fibbed almost immediately. AF is very often the “gateway” to VF, which is why more and more pacemakers come fitted with it as standard these days.

As I understand it, the one currently in my chest is “single chamber”, “single lead”, “single action” type and nolonger manufactured. Worse it’s been incorrectly set and has maybe three or four years of life in the battery rather than the 15-20 it should have… So it’s getting close to needing to be replaced anyway…

Winter February 13, 2023 10:56 AM


Yup, they kept me in for over a week, and the discharge summary is to put it mildly is a fantasy.

The USA is miles ahead of the rest in this game:
Patient dumping a symptom of USA health system




JonKnowsNothing February 13, 2023 11:00 AM

@Clive, @Winter, ALl

re: “It has been a leading principle in US health care that the cheapest treatment is no treatment.”

This is actually not untrue. The body tends to heal itself. So most folks get better from a sickness in a few days. The OTC treatments are symptom relief and have little bearing on the course of the illness.

Pre-COVID people just worked while sick and they were sick a good deal of the time as different viruses circulated. Post-COVID lockdowns, we can see the enormous toll these viruses take on people’s health. Yet most of these are self-limiting, although they can be fatal for those of us in the Immune Compromised Classification.

So, being in hospital under “observation” with no active interventions IS both cheaper and often better for the person.

The down side is that for heart conditions the protocol is Bed Rest. Bed Rest without active Physical Therapy exercises, such as walking for 20 minutes, is highly detrimental to the overall health of an older person. Older persons, who may be left for last in the queue and therefore not get their Floor Walk, lose muscle mass and muscle tone. They do not regain it. There are complications for balance, movement and heart+blood pressure.

It does seem some discussions about how to receive better health care in a system that is built to reduce direct interventions is DEL. Maybe some make it to the internet archive.

JonKnowsNothing February 13, 2023 11:15 AM

@Clive, SpaceLifeForm, All

re: Best COVID Quote of the day

“We don’t really talk about herd immunity anymore…”

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health director and health officer
02 2023

On the very interesting side, something positive to check out:

A TLR-related cell surface receptor named leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 15 (LRRC15) as a novel SARS-CoV-2 spike-binding protein

Fibroblast-expressed LRRC15 is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2 spike and controls antiviral and antifibrotic transcriptional programs

ht tps://

Winter February 13, 2023 11:18 AM


Pre-COVID people just worked while sick and they were sick a good deal of the time as different viruses circulated.

That “motivation” was at the root of the opioid crisis that killed 600+k of Americans.

People in pain due to work and non-work related issues of their locomotory apparatus were prescribed strong analgesics (no-treatment=cheap) instead of physical therapy (treatment=expensive), sick time (healing=expensive), or operations (treatment=super expensive). As a result, the pain and the analgesics stayed until they could not live without the drugs anymore. Until they died of the drugs.

Physical Therapists’ Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic

Mr. Peed Off February 13, 2023 12:33 PM

The Guardian reported:
The Russian state-owned news agency Tass is reporting that today Russia has launched an automated system called Oculus to detect internet content which breaches Russia’s law. Tass reports:

The system recognises images and symbols, illegal scenes and actions, analyses text in photo and video materials. Oculus automatically detects such offences as extremist themes, calls for mass illegal events, suicide, pro-drug content, LGBT propaganda and more.

In general, the creation of the system is a response to provocations and anti-Russian actions on the part of foreign resources. In 2022 alone, based on the data of the prosecutor general’s office of the Russian Federation, 102,627 online resources with fakes were removed and blocked, including those about the course of a special military operation in Ukraine.

Tass claims that usually an agent can manually check 106 images and 101 videos a day, but the Russian government agency deploying the system says it will check more than 200,000 images a day.

Russian courts have frequently imposed fines on western internet media companies over the last year for hosting what they claim is fake content about Ukraine.

JG4 February 13, 2023 12:42 PM

Kudos to the one who pointed out externalities and the need for regulation. Safety is a cost of very limited interest to business managers, while being of great interest to people who live near railroads. The main interest of many businesses is profits, which was very nicely illuminated by the Nixon/Kaiser data point. I haven’t ordered a copy of “Chokepoint Capitalism,” but that is a good idea. The sickcare crime cartel don’t actually have to deliver healthcare to make outsized profits. They just have to make a good pretense and get the billing codes right.

The main point of stopping by today is to relay the excellent coverage in NakedCapitalism of the train wreck. It is sad that the EPA instruments were unable to detect obvious contamination. That instrument sensitivity (insensitivity) eventually will be traced to campaign contributions. I seem to recall the EPA declaring the asbestos at ground zero harmless. “The future is coming like a freight train in Ohio.”

How Precision Scheduled Railroading at Norfolk Southern Caused
A Toxic Vinyl Chloride Mushroom Cloud Over East Palestine, Ohio

I have minor quibbles with MarkH and Clive on dioxin risk. Seveso is spot on, but Agent Orange should be mentioned too. The reason that dioxin is very dangerous (toxic) is because it is an endocrine disruptor, like perfluorodisaster, bisphenol, diethylhexyl phthalate, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and various other aspects of better living through mass poisoning. Dioxin is a thermodynamic sink in the combustion products space, especially when oxygen is limited, flame/combustion temperature is low, and there is chlorine present. The conditions for production of Agent Orange don’t favor dioxin, but each batch is contaminated with the concentration varying according to temperature, pressure and trace components in the feedstocks. The reactor in the Seveso disaster went over temperature and over pressure and spewed the contents across the countryside. The higher pressure and higher temperature favored production of much more dioxins. I was emotionally scarred, but those present were physically scarred by chloracne.

Most burning of garbage containing chlorine generates polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins and dibenzofurans. Unless there is a surplus of oxygen and the temperature is above Clive’s suggested 2000 F. The plume of soot in Ohio clearly is oxygen starved. A lot of PAHs will be formed under such conditions. Diesel soot and woodsmoke have plenty of PAHs. In the case of woodsmoke (which likely would contain dioxins and dibenzofurans if a chlorine source is present), I would take the presence of PCA’s as evidence that they can formed during atmospheric pressure combustion at fairly low temperatures. In the case of diesel soot, one of the drivers toward PCA’s likely is the high pressure. PCAs can be considered precursors of dioxins and dibenzofurans. I will be surprised if people with working instruments don’t detect dioxins and dibenzofurans in the fallout. As noted, there are many other toxic components of the smoke especially carbonyl chloride and hydrogen chloride. Humans can do a lot better than US industry has.

Winter February 13, 2023 1:04 PM

@Mr PeedOff

content which breaches Russia’s law.

This says it all. Russia’s law is ink on paper without any real meaning.

A long time ago I heard the following saying (paraphrasing from memory):

In Russia, having a good defense lawyer at trial is like getting beautiful flowers at your funeral. It is a nice touch but does not change the outcome.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2023 5:04 PM

@ JG4, MarkH,

Re : It went up in smoke.

“I have minor quibbles with MarkH and Clive on dioxin risk. Seveso is spot on, but Agent Orange should be mentioned too.”

I have minor quibles as well… But with MSM reporting where,

Tankers of chemical A and chemical B…

Is ambiguous. Is it,

1, A tank containing just chemical A and a tank containing just chemical B.
2, Two or more tanks containing a mixture of chemical A and Chemical B.
3, Some unstated combination of 1 and 2.

At Seveso the factory was making TCP, and from memory of just under half a century, the tank contained an alkali mixture that heated above 270C and around three atmospheres presure that caused the “ring closure” thus production of Dioxin that blew out when the last line in preasure saftey devices actually functioned.

Now imagine the train tanks contained a mixture of chemicals (2) the fire would start to heat them up. Unless low preasure safety releases are in place and functioning –unlikely from what had been said– then the conditions for ring closure would exist before a tank did a “Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion”(BLEVE) that would throw up a significant amount of dioxin in those 100ft or more clouds.

As for the “sensitivity” of the US EPA instruments. The US EPA regulations have been seen as very sad jokes in Europe for decades. Because for some perverse reason the US standards specify “tests and testing methods” in detail rather than what is being tested for and in what quantities. The result is some US tests still use what looks like “home chemistry set toys” rather than modern fast reliable robust and above all sensitive and accurate instruments.

Thus as others have pointed out the opportunity for a “miller’s thumb”[1] to get into individual measurments is very high in the US and repeatability at best moot. Worse EPA testing is thus slow and expensive, thus very seldom carried out thus regulatory oversight at best minimal.

[1] A “Miller’s Thumb” is a refrence to the use of the “one pound flour scoop” where it was easily posible for the miller to hold it in such a way that his thumb was in the scoop measure, thus reducing each pound by a quater to half an ounce…

vas pup February 13, 2023 6:28 PM

Dubai eyes flying taxi liftoff by 2026

“DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai again is planning for the takeoff of flying taxis in this futuristic city-state on the Arabian Peninsula, offering its firmest details yet Monday for a pledged launch by 2026.

Since 2017, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates has offered promises to launch flying taxis in the city already home to the world’s tallest building and other architectural wonders. A series of different types and companies have cycled through those promises as well, most timed to be included at Dubai’s annual World Government Summit, which saw this year’s
edition begin Monday.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced the relaunched flying taxi program on Twitter on Sunday. This time, Dubai highlighted the six-rotor electric flying taxi made by Joby Aviation of Santa Cruz, California, in the promotional video.

The pricing for the flying taxis “will be in the range of a limousine service in Dubai, maybe slightly higher,” Bahrozyan said. The RTA describes limo services rates as “at least 30%
higher than taxi fares” in the city. Taxis have a minimum fare of around $3.25 and charge $0.50 a kilometer.

Another departure from earlier plans include the RTA planning to have piloted flying taxis at first, rather than autonomous ones as previously discussed. Dubai officials described the taxi as having a pilot with four seats for passengers on board, which match Joby’s electric flying taxi. However, Bahrozyan said tests would continue with autonomous flying taxis as well.

The Joby prototype can fly over 240 kilometers (150 miles) before needing a charge — something which would put Abu Dhabi and other areas of the country within range. It takes off and lands
vertically, while its rotors tilt forward in flight. It has a maximum speed of 320 kph (200 mph).”

lurker February 13, 2023 7:35 PM

@Clive Robinson, All
re Gabrielle’s kick

This girl is notable for slow forward progress without losing strength. Today is a repeat of yesterday, from the other direction and slightly less rain. On the plus side is half my crop of maize and beans will be harvestable. Others near here have crops under two feet of water.

The declaration of a National State of Emergency made Radio Beijing’s main bulletin. Loss of comms for emergency responders in some areas is not a good look. I’m out of the “ham” scene now, but I wonder what happened to all those amazing battery operated HF sets we used.

Cell towers have been dropping like flies from a) batteries running out before mains can be restored, and b) fibre backhaul lost in landslips. AM radio still working due to solid microwave feed from the TV network.

MarkH February 13, 2023 8:38 PM


All may not be what it seems …

“EPA instruments were unable to detect obvious contamination” — Often, the stuff you smell won’t kill you, and the stuff that will kill you has no odor.

As to the symptoms and death of animals, some of them were present during the evacuation, and were exposed to contamination from which people were spared.

Toxic residues (not necessarily from the VC burn!) presumably settled on the town, contaminating grass, snow, streams, etc., a danger to wildlife, livestock and pets.

That’s not necessarily inconsistent with air safe to breathe and tap water safe to drink.

MarkH February 13, 2023 8:51 PM


From wikipedia, there are 75 distinct dioxins, and a variety of other compounds sometimes referred to as ‘dioxin’. They vary extremely in toxicity, TCDD happening to be the absolute most dangerous to people.

In both Agent Orange production and at Seveso, TCDD was unintentionally produced in quantity by synthesis reactions without adequate temperature regulation.

I don’t know which dioxins, or what concentrations, may result from open-air burning of vinyl chloride. Nothing toxic enough, apparently, to have made it into Safety Data Sheets.

Those tank cars are essentially long cylinders; I know of know reason why VC would be tanked along with some other product.

MarkH February 13, 2023 8:56 PM

Dioxin, continued

In the long run, the NTSB report may be the best source of information.

Meanwhile, a small army of lawyers is doubtless converging on East Palestine.

They are likely to (a) conduct some independent testing for toxins, and (b) take the railroad and its customers to court in an effort to force more disclosure.

PS In JG4’s linked article, the video looks to me to show a glow at least a meter long. How could that be a hot bearing box??? I suggest that the axle had already failed, and some metal was scraping along the track leaving a shower of sparks.

Defect detectors check for “hot box” using infrared sensors: by the time a bearing is incandescent, it’s way too late.

ResearcherZero February 13, 2023 11:38 PM

Dioxin contaminated drums were supplied to Vietnam veterans, as part of a program to spray weeds in Australia. This was in the 1980’s to early 90’s. The government did not inform them of the contamination, or provide any adequate protective equipment.

The resulting injury was relatively fast to emerge, including a number of deaths, and a lot of illness. It did a real number on their families.

The spraying was conducted all along rivers and waterways, where recreational fishers would frequently catch fish. Sensitive nesting grounds, those kinds of places.

They got rid of all those contaminated drums though. Buried the last few under a new housing estate.

ResearcherZero February 13, 2023 11:41 PM

Multi-Domain Precision Warfare

JADC2 leans on artificial intelligence and sophisticated computing to speedily sift through mountains of data and inform battlefield decisions. China’s MDPW — first teased in 2021, according to the report — and its other approaches to conflict do, too.

The PLA has embraced an approach that favors hostile encounters as preparation for future conflict with the United States.

A Chinese team said its new AI technology had achieved 95 per cent precision in locating an object when the Jilin-1 satellite streamed video of various moving small targets, including planes in the air and cars on the street. The stealth aircraft appeared to be an F-22 according to some military experts.

“This is a rare glimpse into the often highly classified realm of nation-to-nation run-ins in space — and potential future space warfare tactics.”

China now has facilities and equipment at its ground combat training centers to challenge units across multiple domains.

Clive Robinson February 14, 2023 12:29 AM

@ lurker,

“Cell towers have been dropping like flies from a) batteries running out before mains can be restored, and b) fibre backhaul lost in landslips. AM radio still working due to solid microwave feed from the TV network.”

Sadly this is actually “normal” and compleatly predictable, and in fact actually predicted over and over…

It happens because proper emergancy comms planing costs real money, resources and commitment year on year. With nobody wanting to “pick up the cost” as it’s seen as a “No ROI” “Profit eater”.

Which brings us to,

“I’m out of the “ham” scene now, but I wonder what happened to all those amazing battery operated HF sets we used.”

They are still around but the best units from Yaesu have “gone out of production” after twenty years due to “parts shortages”.

This leaves the well over priced Icom IC-705 and a very limited number of Chinese “clones” of “Open Source” style products at either end of the price line. But they are way over “technical” for ordinary people to just “pick up and use” without extensive training.

Which kind of leaves the Xigue products, which are kind of OK but have fallen into the “MicroSoft-Game” with the device software and rolling upgrades.

(I could go one and focus down but Ham Radio is increasingly seen as a shrinking market).

When younger back in the “Cold War” I used to be a “full participent” in “EmComm”… These days I’m not “involved” as my intetests have been towards “Emergency Broadcast” systems that can be effectively “dropped in” by helicopters etc for use in non firstworld nations, wars etc.

Originally I called the project “Station in a box” because effectively that is what it is and you can get them in various kit forms. Ten on a pallet if you are the likes of a large NGO etc. Sadly that got hit by variois things including C19.

Plan as hard as you can, it apprars you can nolonger realy have “short, reliable supply chains”…

Expect EmComm to get a lot worse before it gets better and the “Ham” side is being actively denegrated by various Commercial Interrsts that have gained “Market Capture” over National Radio Communications Agencies etc.

Basically the commercial interests promise the world to get “lock-in” then either don’t deliver, or fail when put to the real test, as you’ve seen,

“Loss of comms for emergency responders in some areas is not a good look.”

And lets be honest there will be nedless deaths and other potentially worse harms resulting.

For Ham EmComm to work it requires commitment to live training excercises from both sides and that requires a big chunk of change that nobody has got, or as so eloquently put,

“We have to rely on a bunch of god-dam retirees”.

Who have their own particular issues including poor health and very low stamina.

Worse they face “professional discrimination” as many “local government” workers see them as a political “back door to job cutting” and similar whilst others see them as potentially a source of income. I linked in the past to CalFire who wanted to charge “top commercial rates” for Ham Systems to carry on using Fire-Watch and similar towers for VHF and UHF repeaters…

I hate to say it but there is “no last line of defence” because as you can see there is no “first line of defence” to start off with…

Remember that neo-con mantra,

“Don’t leave money on the table”

Well what you are seeing with these failures is because of it…

I’ve politely warned about it over the years, but it appears nobody else wants to think it through as a security or other safety issue.

So you could say as part of a “lifes work” it makes me look like a failure as well… Because I failed to get the message across the squabling of corporate “short skirts” backed by massive lobbying budgets…

ResearcherZero February 14, 2023 12:32 AM


I stopped eating the fish out of the river real quick when I saw the batch number on the drums. It (dioxin) killed a friend of mine, and within not that many years of using the contaminated drums to spray weeds. He survived the war, but not the work programs. The defoliant made sections of the river look like a little patch of Vietnam.

All the blackberries died, along with the shellfish, eels, lamprey. It also knocked around the ducks and s__t.

People still fish there. You can’t see today that it was sprayed with thousands of liters of a bad batch of defoliant. That is why they buried the drums, as they had the batch number printed on the side.

The government was a bit crook back then. Dodgy deals, with their dodgy mates, always lookin’ for a f’ing bribe. They got a bit shooty when you wouldn’t pay.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day

Stopped in to a church
But I didn’t pray

Clive Robinson February 14, 2023 12:52 AM

@ MarkH, ALL,

Re : What you see on the manifest may not represent reality.

“Those tank cars are essentially long cylinders; I know of know reason why VC would be tanked along with some other product.”

If we are talking “raw stock” or “feed stock” as the input to a manufacturing process then I like you would not expect to see VC mixed in with other chemicals…

However you have to also consider intermediate and waste products.

Have a look at how crude oil and similar gets moved around in various stages of refinment and how the remaining “waste” gets used as “bunker fuel” etc. Search for the word “condendates” and similar.

The “Waste Managment” market is without doubt one of the most attractive to “crooks” and it’s shocking what they get upto and put on manifests and the like…

We’ve seen commercial aircraft catch fire and some may have dropped off of the radar because of “fake manifest” issues…

You kind of hwve to assume the worst untill reliable information comes in otherwise. There was no reliable information when I picked up on ehat apprared to be a “suppressed story” and I’ll be upfront and say I’m still not seeing reliable information, just platitudes and half truths. I can appreciate how others might see it differently, but lets just say I’ve a lifetime of being disapointed in respect to “reliable information”.

As for “essentially long cylinders” yup and so are “gas cylindres” that explode so nicely in fires…

When you start trying to put things together you have to appriciate what the near worst case is so you can discount it towards the situational reality. All to often it’s done the other way and a bad problem can be made worse, a lot worse.

MarkH February 14, 2023 6:01 AM

For those interested, the partial manifest furnished to EPA by the railroad is at

It lists 52 contiguous cars, and is supposed to include all which might have been derailed or damaged.

The cars at positions 28 thru 31 (numbered, I assume, from the first car after the locomotives) all have their loads identified as UN1086, “vinyl chloride, stabilized.”

All 4 have the notation “vent product through the PRD and ignited/vent and burn.” PRD is pressure relief device.

MarkH February 14, 2023 6:06 AM

I suppose that most businesses with actual operations are hoped to return a profit. As Bruce has often stressed, decision making is influenced by incentives.

AFAIK, the weight of incentives for rail freight is in the direction of correctly identifying hazardous materials.

Fortunately, derailments this frightening are not very frequent, but less consequential derailments happen so often that anybody involved, including industries using rail shipment, must be aware of the risk that their stuff could be in such an incident.

The railroad company (NS) is going to be hit with a barrage of lawsuits. If they found out that the shipper gave them bad info about the contents, their lawyers would be thrilled — and the lawyers of the shipper horrified.

Q February 14, 2023 12:40 PM

Signal for desktop:

I pointed the browser to

And I am presented with this: “To use the Signal desktop app, Signal must first be installed on your phone.”

I don’t even have a spy phone so that’s not gonna work. Is there a good reason for the spy phone requirement?

Clive Robinson February 14, 2023 12:47 PM

@ MarkH,

“The railroad company (NS) is going to be hit with a barrage of lawsuits. If they found out that the shipper gave them bad info about the contents, their lawyers would be thrilled — and the lawyers of the shipper horrified.”

You are assuming both businesses are sufficiently honest, it is my experience that few ever are. Worse that their legal reptesentatives are shall we say not unaware of this fact, though they would deny it by using carefully selected responds such as “My clint has not informed me of any such behaviours…”

It’s that sort of nonsense with accountants and the likes of Enron and similar, that caused an outcry of more honest reporting.

What did we get after industry lobbying?

“Limited Liability (Private) Partnerships” created specifically such that accounting firms could not be prosecuted or sued.

Almost immediately they became the vehicle of choice for most of the worlds more well healed crooks and shysters looking to hide their various unlawfull or at best highly questionable acctions.

ResearcherZero February 14, 2023 1:07 PM

Plan involved citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia entering Moldova to try to spark protests in an attempt to “change the legitimate government to an illegal government controlled by the Russian Federation.”

“The plan for the next period involves actions with the involvement of diversionists with military training, camouflaged in civilian clothes, who will undertake violent actions, attack some state buildings, and even take hostages.”

Between October and December Moldovan police and its Intelligence and Security Service, the SIS, have intervened in “several cases of organized criminal elements and stopped attempts at violence.”

It’s time to bring foreign interference out of the shadows and into the light.

MarkH February 14, 2023 1:21 PM


No, I make no assumption of honesty.

I assume there will be massive liability, testimony given under penalty of perjury, production of evidence (by subpoena if needed), Federal investigation, and a search for guys to “take the fall.”

Anyone misidentifying hazmat is taking a foolish risk. If anyone did so in this case, they are practically certain to be found out.

We don’t need to presume honesty: the incentives are anchored in self-preservation and self-interest.

Clive Robinson February 14, 2023 6:13 PM

@ Bruce, ALL,

Can I suggest you have a look at the following,

It’s from Perun and it’s titled,

“Small Drones & Loitering Munitions in Ukraine – The terrifying rise of cheap precision”

It raises and to a lesser extent answers the question about “consumer drones on the battlefield”.

Why “lesser extent” because the answers are more questions that whilst giving a direction, tend to open up new avenues to consider.

For instance a drone that costs less than an anti-aircraft munition is going to win in a war of attrition, or overwhelm attack.

So how do you deal with them? One answer is radient energy weapons, but though they might not need conventional kinetic munition, they require considerable energy supplies. With the best energy density of batteries being fractions of a percentage of that of “cordite” in the brass of a round of ammunition radient weapons are neither small nor easily maneuverable.

Currently most consumer drones work with “Continuous Radio System Control”(CRSC) for “safety” reasons. That frequently use the so called “Industrial Scientific and Medical”(ISM) or “Radio Control”(RC) bands and “Global Positioning Satellite”(GPS) navigation. This makes them “sitting ducks” for “Electronic Warfare”(EW) attack using “Consumer Off The Shelf”(COTS) products.

However with some drones now using Ham and other licensed band radio equipment outside of the frequencies the COTS-EW equipment uses it is loosing it’s effectctivness against them. Worse as I’ve mentioned several times before MEMS inertia and compass devices used on mobile phones and cameras can not be conventional EW disabled. Which means a software modification to the drone and addition of some very light weight sensors to the drones effectively renders most radient EW defences ineffective against drones unless they are of extrodinary power consumption.

But it’s more subtle, two major but less noted uses for low cost drones is “forward scouting” and “artillery targeting”. Trying to jam the signals sent back to the handlers might appear trivial, it’s most certainly not. Because the higher the frequency used the more the line of sight radio horizon issue comes into play.

Imagine if you will the drone has a small laser pointing back at it’s handler just over the crest of a hill. It does not matter how many spotlights the enemy has, how powerfull they are, or where they point them, they won’t stop the handler seeing the laser and the data it carries. Worse for the enemy those spotlights the have are all viable targets for artillery or mortar fire the drone handler can now “call in”. So a less than thousand dollar drone enables hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to be done.

As I’ve also mentioned drones can fly at upto 300meters and the “radio horizon” at that altitude is over 50km. So using drones on an auto-pilot to lift a very wideband SDR receiver that then WiFi downlinks to powerfull laptops on the ground gives a Signals Inteligence capability that was formerly only available to those who could aford the likes of Boeing’s Rivit-Joint and similar. Thus available to quite small military groups say at troop rather than brigade level. If sensibily intigrated can give position information on the enemy any time they use a radio device for battle field communications.

Likewise they can act as “flying repeaters” to? extend UHF or SHF radio equipment range to very large coverage areas (upto 10,000 Sq Km).

As such low cost or COST drones are going to shape Battlfield-2025 tactics quite significantly especialy with the ability to have them “swarm” and work in parallel with high redundency.

Obviously this will by 2030 at the lastst have had considerable knock on effectcts into Law Enforcment, and general civilian population security, control, and privacy.

JonKnowsNothing February 14, 2023 6:43 PM

@ Clive, ALL

re: Battlefield Consumer Stuffs

iirc(badly) Don’t consumer drones have a built in ability to geofence restricted areas?

The areas that are prohibited vary by country, location and legal restrictions. It’s probably no secret which areas are Drone No Fly zones on commercial OTC drones. It’s not like the other side doesn’t know where the other guys are: mostly OVER THERE.

I would guess that aspect will be a First Target for Counter Exploit. Capture a drone, read off the NoFly Zone list as entered by the drone owners. Then alter the list so add in NoFly Here Zones.

Given the state of telemetry, it might be a while before the original operators realize that drone isn’t giving up good data.

MarkH February 14, 2023 9:55 PM

On 10 February, EPA published a list of compounds found as contaminants in the vicinity of the Ohio derailment:

• Vinyl chloride
• Butyl acrylate
• Ethylhexyl acrylate
• Ethylene glycol monobutyl

All of these are listed as the contents of (separate) tank cars in the partial manifest; none are products of combustion from the intentional burn.

The latter two might account for numerous reports of intense irritation (apparently of mucous membranes) reported by many residents as soon as 20 minutes after returning.

I hope this clusterf*ck will prompt careful revision of criteria for allowing people to return to a hazmat spill site.

lurker February 14, 2023 11:29 PM

@Clive, All
re Gabrielle

Emergency comms restored by,
helicoptered Starlink terminals. I’ll spare the rant on relying on some commercial satelite co.

18 hour network outage here; much longer in some places, which is giving some people the shock horror of paying by cash, EFTPOS dead, and welfare paid into bank accts.

Electric power still off in many places is disclosing how unprepared many people are for no water coming out the tap.

Clive Robinson February 15, 2023 4:07 AM

@ lurker, ALL,

Re : Preparing for discomfort.

“Electric power still off in many places is disclosing how unprepared many people are for no water coming out the tap.”

Modern western lifestyles are comfort and conveniance instabt gratification brought by “force multiplying” devices that very inefficiently use energy.

We get “comfort” by what is called “air conditioning” and so we burn energy to be at a steady 22C 72F. We mostly care not just how much of that energy goes out the doors, windows, roofs and walls. So builders build homes that can not hold heat or maintain a stable temprature, it’s cheaper, more convenient and in the US easy to demolish in a couple or so decades.

In Texas a couople of years back this killed a lot of people and the political response was you are just a bunch of whingers whilst many flew to Mexico or other places to be warm.

Apparently putting profit over maintainance and safety is the norm in the US with even hospitals pushing patients out in night gowns in winter to bus stops so that profit can be maintained.

In California people who made preperations for PEG doing it’s “well turn the power off if a breeze springs up” by buying generators and the like, became “victims of crime”.

Preparing for a prolonged inconvenience due to man made or natural disaster is not difficult, it requires only a little forethought and planning, but quite a bit of practice.

In the case of water you can not just fill up the bath, or drink out of the toilet cistern especially if you don’t have the energy to sanitize it. Nor can you just fill up plastic containers and put them under the bed or in the celler etc.

Even “pure water” goes bad in the container if you don’t take precautions. Similar with liquid fuels for generators.

Preperation for inconvenience in a world of convenience requires the education and training that happened at home prior to WWII as just part of growing up. Now you have X-boxes and TicTok to ease the boredom of living in a convenient world…

Having helped build this convenient world where people now die for lack of a little knowledge and training, I actually feel guilty. After all if you are a parent who gives a child all the sweeties they want, who realy is responsible for the pain of dental rot, breathlessness of over weight and early demise by cardiac issues?

Clive Robinson February 15, 2023 4:18 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

Re : Drone Go / No Go areas.

“iirc(badly) Don’t consumer drones have a built in ability to geofence restricted areas?”

Yes, but…

The drone has no way of implicitly knowing where ot can or can not fly, in the same way a dirt bike has no way of knowing if it can be used in any given field.

Such information has to be “built in” or “uploaded” into the drone.

If it’s not in the lookup list indide the drone then it’s not geo-fenced.

Such lists are usually not that difficult to find in embbeded software, thus taking them out or changing them would not be that dificult.

Even if encrypted in some way,

“What is made by one man, can be undone by another”

As we know from set-top consoles and electronic computer games consoles, people of considerable tenacity generally find ways around things.

ResearcherZero February 15, 2023 12:24 PM

Team Jorge’s bot-management software appears to have grown significantly by 2022, according to what Hanan told the undercover reporters. He said it controlled a multinational army of more than 30,000 avatars, complete with digital backstories that stretch back years.

Team Jorge worked covertly on the Nigerian presidential race in 2015 it did so alongside Cambridge Analytica. Team Jorge also sent Nix’s political consultancy a video showcasing an early iteration of the social media disinformation software it now markets as Aims. Hanan said in an email that the tool, which enabled users to create up to 5,000 bots to deliver “mass messages” and “propaganda”, had been used in 17 elections.

Hanan told reporters about his “blogger machine” – an automated system for creating websites that the Aims-controlled social media profiles could then use to spread fake news stories across the internet. “After you’ve created credibility, what do you do? Then you can manipulate,” he said.

Hanan described his team as “graduates of government agencies”, with expertise in finance, social media and campaigns, as well as “psychological warfare”, operating from six offices around the world. Hanan suggested to the undercover reporters that some of his hacking methods exploited vulnerabilities in the global signalling telecoms system, SS7, which for decades has been regarded by experts as a weak spot in the telecoms network.

ResearcherZero February 15, 2023 9:59 PM

“Tax officials raided the offices of Oxfam India, the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, and the Center for Policy Research.”

Until recently, the main targets for the intolerance of the government and the wrath of the ruling party were domestic media outlets — especially the local-language press.

ResearcherZero February 15, 2023 10:23 PM

@Clive Robinson

I suppose the original name “Meta”, pitched by a very much younger Zuckerberg, was a dead giveaway.

Harvesting data, as its agricultural name suggests, is similar to gathering crops because it involves collection and storage with the expectation of future reward.

“He isn’t motivated by that kind of garden-variety psychology. He does this because he can, and justifications about ‘connection’ and ‘community’ are ex post facto rationalisations.”


Meta has emphasized its rebrand is designed to re-position it as a “metaverse company.” not a metadata harvesting platform

Clive Robinson February 15, 2023 10:58 PM

@ ResearcherZero,

Re : Awaiting a grown up.

It’s been noted that he was a very very unpleasant if not dispicable misogynist when at collage.

His first attempt at a “Facebook” whilst mostly not his coding was a site for anonymous posters to drop sexist and derogatory comments on female students.

Apparently he nearly got kicked out over it but somehow escaped censure of any meaningful form.

The sight was very clearly designed to cause pain, anxiety, and even suicidal tendencies in young women, thus give him significant gratification.

I dred to think what his private life is like, as those sort of mental aberations tend to get worse, a lot worse with time.

ResearcherZero February 15, 2023 11:28 PM

@Clive Robinson

Those kinds of people seem to have no problem rising through the ranks. We used to get calls to stop them dragging young women in to cars. I always thought that was the job of the police, however many seemed incapable of moving their arms and legs at the appropriate time, and a propensity to head home claiming their shift was over. “You’ll be OK,” they would ask, as they headed home. Of course, no worries, she’ll be right mate.

Also those same kinds of people never seemed to be convicted of crimes. Especially the ones who later ran for election. Though they all bang on a lot about “Family Values”, “Tough on Crime” and “Fiscal Responsibility.”

They don’t much like the media reporting about their shady pasts. They refer to that as “Mob Rule”. Send the cops in to seize ‘the evidence’, search through journalists laptops and phones. It probably helps to have a friend like Mark if there is a bad story in the press about someone in the government. Another friend running a media empire. A spyware contract or two.

Nick Levinson February 16, 2023 5:33 AM

Misuse of software as causing undetected errors in conclusions:

A researcher has been reporting errors in government and academic announcements directly traceable to spreadsheet misuse, such as calculating from wrong columns, and then inadequately checking one’s work.

A scientist doing genetics research entered data about a gene known as “March 1” but apparently didn’t notice that the spreadsheet changed the entry to a date. The spreadsheet maker said they designed the raw spreadsheet for accounting and not for genetics, so it’s working correctly. So, scientists have agreed to rename the gene.

I haven’t named the spreadsheet brand. I just tested a competitor and it does almost the same thing. Maybe there’s a setting and I hope there is; but proofreading can’t be avoided.

I say “almost” because the gene was known as MARCH1, and the spaceless spelling did not cause a problem, but the spelling with a space before the digit did, and that’s an easy error to make, especially if an auto-.

The BBC, which does not offer transcripts of its broadcasts, just broadcast a story about this, including interviewing a researcher who collects these kinds of errors. This seems to be the same thing:

He says this happens mostly in the public sector, but I doubt that. Public sector information is probably easier to find.

I’ll just guess that this or a similar problem is found with security and security-implicating software, too.

Clive Robinson February 16, 2023 7:54 AM

@ Nick Levinson, ALL,

Re : Limited number of meaningfull words.

“I’ll just guess that this or a similar problem is found with security and security-implicating software, too.”

It’s a more specialized version of the “TLA Problem”…

The latin alphabet has 26 charecters but Q is almost always followed by U and J and similar have other issues. So the set of usefull “Three Letter Acronyms”(TLA) is less than the 26^3 (17576) you would expect and many are so “overloaded” that even reading in context may not make what the TLA stands for obvious.

A more general issue was found back in the 1960’s with random password generators of 8charecters where such a tiny fraction of the output made pronouncable words such generators were basically usless. The solution was “added rules” to generate nonsense words that were atleast pronouncable by careful use of consonants and vowels.

The same problem exists with the XKCD and similar parssphrase generators using word lists. By far the majority can not be made into usable phrases without reducing the password space entropy significantly (Bit’s falling like tears onto the harsh frozen ground).

Look at it this way,

“Because humans crave order not disorder then “re-use” thus “overloading” is a necessity that can not be avoided. However anyone stupid enough to encode rules to make this easier on humans is a fundemental security failing.”

We even have a name to signify the stupidity and that it should not be done. It’s called,

“Principle of least astonishment”(POLA)

Or the older *nix variant “law of least surprise”(LOLS).

Of course ironically POLA is “overloaded” as a FLA… It can stand amoungst others for “Personal Online Assistant”(POLA) or “Politically Of Least Association”(POLA) so,

“A POLA should follow POLA and be POLA”

modem phonemes February 16, 2023 1:30 PM

@ Nick Levinson

Misuse of software … they designed the raw spreadsheet for accounting and not for genetics, so it’s working correctly

I’ve never really grasped why document related software seems always provided as the trio word processor, spreadsheet, image/slide presenter. The three aspects of text, displayed calculation, and images naturally flow into each other and are traditionally found together in the idea of “document”.

Thinking of a document application as including seamlessly all three aspects seems to be more proportionate to document needs. It also naturally extends their forms, e.g., spreadsheet to more general calculation frameworks than grids.

Writing software from this point of view would encourage better respect for appropriate handling of user inputs, and reduce “over-helping” the user.

Winter February 16, 2023 1:58 PM


Thinking of a document application as including seamlessly all three aspects seems to be more proportionate to document needs.

LaTeX comes quite far in that direction. However, it is rather a steep learning curve. Creating presentations in it (Beamer) is still something that requires some forethought.

But I assume that GPT5 or so will be able to create presentations and spreadsheets from textual prompts like any PA.

modem phonemes February 16, 2023 2:43 PM

@ Winter

steep learning curve

I’ve always kind of wondered if a Reverse Polish Notation approach would be o help with TeX and LaTeX (at all document levels).

Sort of like Latin (once familiarized) is actually easier and more economical to parse and use than English.

Clive Robinson February 16, 2023 3:17 PM

@ modem phoneme, Winter, ALL,

Re : Reverse Polish stack languages.

“I’ve always kind of wondered if a Reverse Polish Notation approach would be o help with TeX and LaTeX (at all document levels).”

The most well known of RPN languages is probably Forth.

However the most used is almost certainly PostScript / PDF. Loosley based on Forth.

With some time ago Sun’s early “Network Window System”(NeWS), and the software on PCI I/O cards it looked like stack based languages would be atleast at the comms interworking level the way things were going to go.

Microsoft engineers however hated it and avoided it in every way they could which kind of pleased managment as they could go do the embrace and extend path of taking open standards and making them closed peopriatory tied back to MS products.

The big advantages of stack pased systems are,

1, They are memory efficient.
2, They are memory location independent without hardware support.

They are also generally very fast and can be easily threaded to run in parallel.

Which might beg the question,

“What’s not to like?”

To which the answer is,

“Nost programers can not handle RPN, even inefficiently”.

Trying to use stacks efficiently is not something most programers can get their head around or even want to.

SpaceLifeForm February 16, 2023 7:07 PM

@ 1&1~=Umm

Ticking along as well as Clive.

My mum fell and broke her neck.

In hospital. They gave her morphine, and she was out of it. She never had that in her life. She does not even drink alcohol. Will learn more shortly.

ResearcherZero February 16, 2023 8:43 PM

Frebniis first ensures FREB is enabled and then hijacks its execution by injecting malicious code into the IIS process memory and causing it to run.

By sending a request to the logon.aspx or default.aspx files that includes code written in C#, Frebniis will automatically decode it and execute it in memory. Once again, by executing the code directly in memory, the backdoor is much harder to detect.

The post provides two file hashes associated with the backdoor but doesn’t explain how to search a system to see if they exist.

“The technique used by Frebniis involves injecting malicious code into the memory of a DLL file (iisfreb.dll) related to an IIS feature used to troubleshoot and analyze failed web page requests.”

FatalRAT, contains various commands used to manipulate data from different browsers, and the victimology is not focused on a particular type of user, anyone can be affected.

Clive Robinson February 16, 2023 8:49 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

“My mum fell and broke her neck.”

You have my heart felt sympathies, and hopes for a good and speedy recovery for her.

You both will be in my thoughts.

lurker February 16, 2023 10:06 PM

@Clive Robinson, re stacks and programmers’ heads

The inverse also seems true: I learned RPN on a HP 41, came to love PostScript, I could make it do what I wanted. C seemed to be missing something, it wasn’t logical. And Basic was so childish …

Ted February 16, 2023 11:28 PM


I am also sending you and your mom wishes for care and comfort. That’s a major event. I pray she continues to receive attentive and compassionate support. You both will remain in my thoughts. Thank you for the update.

Galadriel February 17, 2023 1:48 AM

Antivirus apps are there to protect you – Cisco’s ClamAV has a heckuva flaw

Antivirus software is supposed to be an important part of an organization’s defense against the endless tide of malware.

Cisco’s open source ClamAV can fill that role – once you patch the 9.8/10 rated arbitrary code execution flaw the networking giant revealed on Wednesday.

“A vulnerability in the HFS+ partition file parser of ClamAV versions 1.0.0 and earlier, 0.105.1 and earlier, and 0.103.7 and earlier could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code,” states Cisco’s security advisory, which identifies the issue as CVE-2023-20032.

“This vulnerability is due to a missing buffer size check that may result in a heap buffer overflow write,” the document elaborates. “An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by submitting a crafted HFS+ partition file to be scanned by ClamAV on an affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the ClamAV scanning process, or else crash the process, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) condition.”

everywhere a microsoft microsoft February 17, 2023 2:24 AM

Neal Mohan, “who is the fourth and current CEO of YouTube, succeeding Susan Wojcicki on February 16, 2023” “has also worked with Microsoft!”




MarkH February 17, 2023 3:42 AM


Shocking news. I suppose you’re walking down a corridor lined with great stresses, and hope you will be drawing on all your sources of strength.

I value your kind participation in this forum.

JonKnowsNothing February 17, 2023 9:16 AM


Sincere hope that issues resolve quickly. We are all of a family here; One’s hurt is a hurt for All. Care for yourself too is important and often overlooked during times of extreme stress. Physical and Emotional strength can be helped knowing how much we mean to others.

Sending best compassionate hopes to you and your family members.

JG4 February 17, 2023 9:22 AM

You may have heard it here first. The original forever chemicals were polychlorinated organics and dioxins:

This reminded me to look for a mention of dioxin in the media:

I am pretty sure that link came from NakedCapitalism.

The liars, thieves, and murderers somehow forgot to mention it in any recent disinformation cycle. Curious that the EPA have been unable to find any dioxins or dibenzofurans in the fallout.

Instead, much of the news cycle was spent on $400,000 missiles shooting down $12 amateur radio balloons.

Clive Robinson February 17, 2023 11:44 AM

@ JG4,

“Instead, much of the news cycle was spent on $400,000 missiles shooting down $12 amateur radio balloons.”

Which will be used by some outspoken politicians to ban a harmless hobby, whilst demanding more appropriations to fight this effectively imaginary menace.

What more could the tailking head nutjobs need to scare the US public silly about “reds under the beds” for what the fith time in living memory…

As for dioxin and friends, you should note that a number of the companies that have them as a byproducts have shifted the production to third world countries and the like for a few brown envelopes stuffed with green, to those at the top of the heirarchies in those countries.

MarkH February 17, 2023 3:36 PM


From wikipedia,

• at least 80 compounds are called dioxin

• they vary in toxicity by a factor of 30,000

The first linked articled describes the ferocious toxicity of TCDD, and then goes on to discussion hypothetical dioxin contamination, which might lead a reasonable reader to conclude that ALL dioxins are as bad as TCDD.

That is very bad writing — the author is either ignorant, or intentionally deceptive.

The East Palestine disaster is horrible enough, without yellow journalism.

MarkH February 17, 2023 3:44 PM

@JG4 part 2:

I’m open-minded, and not defending any industry. So far, I’ve found no evidence that burning vinyl chloride monomer creates detectable quantities of any dioxins, let alone TCDD.

If anyone has evidence on this, please write it here!

It’s broadly accepted that people living near Fukushima suffered no detectable health effects from exposure to ionizing radiation, but extremely damaging effects from OVERREACTION to the perceived danger.

Alarmism by self-anointed Guardians can hurt and kill.

U.S. lawyers get a huge percentage of health-related lawsuits. If the EPA isn’t testing for dioxins in East Palestine, law firms surely will.

SpaceLifeForm February 17, 2023 4:37 PM


Re; Mum status

Thank you for the kind words of support.

It is much appreciated.

Broke C2. Standard fall from standing to faceplant on floor.

Looks like best prognosis for a C2. Have not seen MRI or CT results yet. But I hope and believe it is not a bad Hangman’s break.

Only neurological symptom is incontinence. No paralysis. Full control of extremities. I think she can still turn her head from side to side.

Docs want to do a screw fix, but currently she is so out of it, that surgery is not a good idea at this point.

Her blood pressure remains high, so no surgery anyway at this time. Has been an issue controlling for a couple of years now. Warfarin. They are trying different drugs for the high bp.

I want to see the pics. It is possible that it could heal without surgery. The problem is that she is 84.

MarkH February 17, 2023 6:26 PM


Thanks for sharing the news! From here, it seems like a blend of “what awful luck” and “coulda been a lot worse.”

Hopefully she’s on the path of returning to those activities that given meaning to her life.

Ted February 18, 2023 12:18 AM


Oh my goodness! I’m so glad your mom has made it through this event with less trauma than one could imagine. What a blessing to hear there are many positive signs. It sounds like the medical team is providing you and your family with informative and professional assessments. I hope they can send you the imaging results soon.

Experiencing a fall is a scary event. They have affected my own family too. I pray that your family has the opportunity to come together for comfort and to share thoughts on the future. Thank you kindly for the updates. Sending continued best wishes for you, your dear Mum, and family.

Clive Robinson February 18, 2023 1:39 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I hope that the effects your mum is feeling are just caused by swelling in the soft tissues, that accompanies most impact injuries and will subside over the next few days as the healing process progresses[1].

Just remember that as a general rule of thumb, the older we get the more physically cautious we get so don’t expect her mental outlook to physical activities to spring back to what you remember as “normal” as quickly.

The sad fact is the older we get the more prone we are to falls, and the weaker our bones and muscles are. In part because none of us do the things we should from our early twenties onwards to maintain them at their best (we have to work for a living which realy does take a toll on our longterm health and mobility).

The best you can do is be supportive as best you can and have a positive frame of mind and do enough of the everyday things to keep her as independent as possible and be generally encoraging.

You mention Warfarin and blood preasure, these are generally unrelated. Warfarin mainly has effects on the blood clotting pathways so that it takes longer for blood to clot. That way it reduces the risk of clots forming in the heart and getting out into other parts of the body and causing significant problems. Have a read of,

One big problem with warfarin though, is it’s effected by what you eat[2]… People who live past seventy generaly eat plenty of fresh vegtables and fruit in a “seasonal diet”… This can make getting the INR stable a pain as sometimes weekly blood test have to be carried out. However some people learn their body, thus know when to start making dosage changes to stay instep with their otherwise healthy diet[3].

The wonders of technology now alow people to INR test at home relatively inexpensively via a “pin prick” test rather than a testtube full drawn by a Dr or Nurse at their office and sent via courier to a path lab. Also The results are available in less than a minute not upto a week via a lab.

The thing about INR and warfarin is there are two stages,

1, Curve finding
2, Curve following

Finding a persons point on which scale of curve can be hard due to the number of degrees of freedom. However once you know which curve scale they are on and where, following it is a simple iterative process based on past readings and a simple feedback loop.

[1] Nearly two weeks ago I faced down into the pavment when trying to catch a bus. Unsurprisingly from witness descriptions I’ve got a few “tender spots” where even though the bruising colour has gone they still hurt quite a bit. My left knee cap especially makes life a pain as it has a hobbling effect. Damage to my left foot means I can not “weight bare” on it properly, it’s not till you can not put your big toe joint on the ground that you realise just how unstable and wobbly that makes you especially on stairs… Which as a consequence I’m actively avoiding due to not wanting to “swan dive” down them. As for the right elbow and ribs, lets just say getting to sleep and staying asleep is not what it once was, so being tired all the time is not helpfull to recovery. I know it’s just a matter of waiting on the healing process but it is quite frustrating in the meantime.

[2] I’ve just been in hospital where the food is mostly inappropriate for me and my blood glucose control, thus I had a major dietary change and my “INR” is well outside my theraputic range (2.5-3.5). The fact the Hospital discharged me before sorting it out is to be blunt inexcusable bordering on negligent (especially as they have not sorted out why I keeled over in the first place). Worse in my case I take a lot of warfarin in the past 16mg/day was kind of normal, these levels tend to make Drs especially younger ones extreamly twitchy and way overly cautious. So if I follow their out of a book advice it will take weeks if not months to get back in range, rather than a couple of days to a week it would otherwise…

[3] This is something diabetics also now do out of self defence. The AMA pushed by “big phama” gave advise even just a few years back, that was the equivalent of kill you slowly. Basically overload with carbs and use lots of insulin to convert it to body fat, thus suffer all manner of horrendous side effects and complications. Modern technology alows for minute by minute near real time tracking of blood glucose thus food need can be readily calculated and surprise surprise some people appear to be able to recover from type II diabetes rather than get steadily more unwell. Oh and also reduce big phama profits in the US where insulin pricing is obscene. So when someone has a downer on “the evils of technology” just remind them there are some upsides.

JG4 February 18, 2023 11:44 AM

@MarkH – Your point is a good one. The scientific literature on combustion of vinyl chloride is very thin. With that said, the evidence is very solid that dioxins and dibenzofurans are formed in any combustion processes involving PVC, if temperature and oxygen content are low enough. I could dredge up a lot of literature on dioxins being formed in various combustion processes, but very few companies burn vinyl chloride monomer. It made a lot of sense to burn trash, but it doesn’t make much sense to burn a valuable industrial feedstock. By the way, why do they ship the monomer all over the world instead of just processing it onsite? The polymer itself is pretty safe, except for the small amount of monomer that leaches out. There are countless examples in the chemical industries where the dangerous intermediates are made and used onsite.

Any time polyvinyl chloride is burned, the flame will dissociate it into a range of intermediates. The mix of intermediates for a given PVC input will be very similar to the intermediates produced from the same weight of vinyl chloride, for a given flame temperature, oxygen concentration and fuel input. You can think of fire as a molecular shredder/blender where there are inputs and outputs. Depending on the composition of inputs, temperature and even quenching rates, you will get different mixes of intermediates and products. Putting PVC dust into a flame would give substantially the same mix of products as putting the same amount of vinyl chloride in the flame under the same conditions of temperature and pressure. Not exactly the same, but very similar.

It will be interesting to see what the independent researchers find regarding contamination of the fallout area.

MarkH February 18, 2023 2:10 PM


It will be interesting to see what the independent researchers find regarding contamination of the fallout area.

That will be the meaningful answer. Until then, we have unsubstantiated speculation.

If the burning of vinyl chloride monomer is indeed found to produce medically harmful dioxin concentrations (I think there’s no evidence that even burning PVC by itself yields TCDD), then the Safety Data Sheets for VCM are significantly wrong.

SDS are created by material manufacturers. Omission of a grave health hazard could lead to huge liability: the lawyers would be salivating.

WhoDat? February 18, 2023 2:44 PM

@MarkH – Imagine my surprise when you didn’t find this much reading material by searching for dioxins from burning vinyl. You could stay busy for days.

I had to pick through a lot of this to convince myself how thin the scientific literature on burning monomer is. I was unable to find any scientific evidence for the bit about the vinyl chloride plant in the 1999 NATO bombing. Further airmail and rocketmail delivery of government services coming soon. The USDA soil expert pointed out to me that the prime soybean country is well to the west and south of Ohio.

Will China lose its taste for Ohio soybeans, milk over toxic train fears?

Sun said the dioxins would persist in the environment, pointing to the 1999 Nato air strike on then Yugoslavia which damaged many chemical plants, setting hundreds of tonnes of vinyl chloride alight in a fire which burned for days.
A 2002 survey by the Serbian government found significant excess dioxins in the soil around the affected area in the industrial city of Pancevo.

SpaceLifeForm February 18, 2023 5:44 PM


Re: mum status


Based upon my research of her meds, it is heart failure.

This really sucks, but I expected.

JonKnowsNothing February 18, 2023 6:45 PM


It is not an easy thing for humans, either to watch or to endure. Take time for yourself, a nice cuppa, a quiet moment, a cat nap when you can.

I recommend a diary, nothing fancy, a pad of paper or a cheap note book. Write whatever comes to mind. Meds lists, dates of visits, food, getting a cuppa, emotions or lack of them too. Whatever flows from the pen is fine.

It was helpful to me and still is. Others who had been in the same spot had recommended it to me and it has helped me greatly. We forget the pain, but we also forget the humor and the kindness. It becomes a blur. If and when you reread the diary, it will remind you not just of the difficulty but the compassion that was around you.


During the hallucination phase, my spouse commented that one of our MD friends had come to the room. The MD stood at the footer but didn’t say anything. My spouse was a bit peeved that our old friend didn’t speak.

Then my spouse turned to me and said,

  • “Well of course our friend couldn’t speak, they died years ago. So that’s OK.”

A friend is a friend, no matter the source. It makes me smile to remember that exchange encapsulated in a diary.

MarkH February 18, 2023 9:45 PM


I wrote, “no evidence that even burning PVC by itself yields TCDD.”

Not dioxins in general, but the one famous for its intense toxicity.

Which dioxins can VCM combustion produce? In what concentrations?

Evidence, anyone?


Clive Robinson February 18, 2023 10:47 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

Re : Heart Failure

“Based upon my research of her meds, it is heart failure.”

You left the word “suspected” out of there.

For various physiological reasons the medical proffession assume heart failure is quite likely in people over 50 and near certain in those over 60 ove average or above build.

As heart failure is a known “gateway condition” any sign it might be present will cause the Drs to give various treatments for it. Because on simple population risk calculation such treatment is going to give you 5-25 years of improved life expectancy by the minimisation of risk of strokes, heart attacks, PE and DVT (evolutionarily we are still adjusting to the fact we walk upright and most of our body still wants us on all fours, having a second heart would realy be a significant improvment 😉

If you look up the incidence of heart failure in the population you will find,

1, It starts in the 30’s
2, Increases with age
3, Increases with hight
4, Increases with overhead work
5, Increases with standing up work
6, Increases with body mass (lean or lipid).

In short like wrinkles and muscle tone loss it’s a sign of “physical” rather than “temporal” aging, from the wear and tear of living.

Usually if caught early in it’s progression with a little medication and some minor life style changes heart failure is not realy an issue these days. It’s actually more of a nuisance[1] in that some of the drugs need continuous titration for optimum effect (Warfarin is one such[2]). As you have to have tests with a frequency of from once a week to once a month (though home testing is showing better quality of life outcomes and lowered consequential risk factors).

At some point Drs might recommend that a pacing or sinilar device be fitted. Some are single lead single chamber, others are the full works including de-fib for VF (which is the cause of something like eight out of ten heart related deaths outside of hospital[3]). If I had been given the choice when mine was fitted I’d have gone for the full on device that also has the extended “reveal” (logging/reporting) features. As they will pick up indicators that will be missed by ordinary “visit the Drs Office” health checkups. I had something like 15years of passing out events but even spending a week at a time in hospital on cardiac monitoring did not pick up the cause of my syncope. Eventually they put a tiny reveal device the size of half a matchstick under my skin above the heart, in what was about a 10min local anasthetic proceadure (think not much more than “chiping your pet”). They got the answer as to the cause in under a couple of months and if they had known that fifteen years before my quality of life would have been significantly better (but the tech was not there back then).

Medicine moves forward quite rapidly. Remember that the life expectancy figures are by definition “out of date”. I had to explain to a fourty year old friend that was facing a quadrupal bypass that the 20year life expectancy he looked up was incorrect for him. Firstly because it was based on the state of medicine from two decades earlier, and that back then the operation was only done on people who had about a five year life expectancy any way.

Whilst usefull drug innovation is often talked about as though it’s now over, that’s because we’ve had the easy wins. So we have moved from what you might call “basic chemistry to complex biology” to look for answers at a much finer grained level, the research and testing is thus comparatively way harder and more expensive. But as research science has moved from “in vitro” to “in vivo” we are now moving to what some call “in silico” for computer based modeling coupled with deep mining medical records by psudo-AI.

But journalists and the like realy don’t talk about how technology has made major leaps forward in diagnostic capability and thus significantly improving quality of life, as well as extending life expectancy. We now live about twice as long as we did as little as three centuries ago. Where I live the average life expectancy is getting up into the mid eighties with people getting to their hundredth birthday nolonger much more than local news if that. In fact in some part of the Western world life expectancy is rising around one year for every five or six years lived… Much of this improvment is “early catching” of illness. By definition illness does harm, the sooner you stop the illness or the harm it causes the less the damage, thus the better quality of life outcomes[4]. Take diabetes, it was once a death sentance with maybe a five year life expectancy after diagnosis, now we are catching it so early and can control it so well that we are getting reports of people apparently recovering from type II diabetes. With modern home and continuous monitoring even those with Type I can have better blood glucose control than the fitest of non diabetes sufferers. Whilst not quite in the “implantable monitoring” stage the bio-tech will probably make even type I diabetes catchable at an early enough stage for us to be able to stop the harms having negative quality of life impacts.

The same is true with other “physical age related” illnessess. Whilst a cure for baldness wrinkles and grey hair might be nice, cures or prevention for organ damage will enable us to live long enough to be able to realy moan about how those darn young wipper snapper centenarians should act their age…

[1] Due to the medical proffession knowing “life style” is an issue, they have encoraged the development of “social groups” to encorage better behaviours. Which as a friend noted did wonders for his social life and led to him meeting someone and getting married again…

[2] There are new drugs such as riveroxaban that don’t need titration, however as I found they are not risk free. Due to political issues the “INR Clinic” in my area had become not realy “fit for purpose” so my cardiologist finally persuaded me to switch to riveroxaban. Which turned out to be a near fatal mistake. Being in a relatively new family of drugs it turns out not all the kinks were known at the time. One being there is actually a “size range” if you were physically too small or to large it’s less than efective… I’m in the upper 99th percentile for hight in my generation and still hit my head in older doorways. My cardiologist had retired and for some reason I did not get red flagged under drug review by my then General Practicioner (GP) Doctor. It was only getting admitted to hospital with my cardiac output being close to terminal when standing that it got picked up… Had my pacing device had proper logging then it would have been picked up much much sooner. For all it’s nuisance issues Warfarin is a well known and well characterized drug that has been in use for over sixty years and is on prescription to atleast 12million in the US alone. I’m happy to be back on it, and if I can get past the local politics to do “home testing” I would be a lot happier.

[3] The underlying medical causes of VF are still a subject of quite intense research. The primary cause of VF is polarising of the myocardium a subject that has become more intensely studied since C19 and mRNA vaccines and cases of unexpected “Sudden Cardiac Death” being definitively found (first in Germany). Such polarising is caused by normal wave propagation effects in the heart that due to damage to the muscle get blocked in some way. Which is why the primary treatment of VF is depolarising enough of the myocardium for coordinated contractions to occur again, which is what de-fib does.

[4] There is increasing evidence that “autoimmune diseases” are actually triggered or even caused by viral infection combined with stress. If it turns out to be the case then removing the stress, virus or both would significantly improve quality of life. C19 has caused many to reevaluate “stress” in their lives and this has apparently caused some “bad” employers issues as people are not returning to stressful effectively explotative jobs. But also “long covid” much though employers and politicians wish to deny it and keep it out of sight is very real and has very significant outcomes. According to some reports it has effectively doubled the disability rate in many areas… Suggesting the link to viral infection triggering autoimmune or similar disease/illness is rather more real than some would like.

Clive Robinson February 18, 2023 11:08 PM

@ MarkH, ALL,

Re : Combustion and dioxins

“Which dioxins can VCM combustion produce? In what concentrations?”

From my understaning of the informarion I’ve received from various sources, as I’ve already indicated it’s not combustion that causes the dioxins to form but the processess leading up to potential combustion conditions,

1, Temprature above around 250C
2, Pressure above a couple of atmospheres.
3, Reduced oxygen environments.

Thus you get the “ring closure” at which point the stability of the molecule is such you have to exceed 2000C to break it down.

Such formative but not destructive conditions happen in industrial incinerators unless care is taken.

It also happens in sealed vessels that over heat prior to safty valves or the vessels rupturing (no combustion required).

It can also happen in “Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions”(BLEVE) behind the surface flame front.

SpaceLifeForm February 19, 2023 1:45 AM

@ Clive, ALL

Re: mum status

Medical profession has went downhill.

She told me multiple times tonight: “I am dead”

Could barely hear her.

I told her: “Not yet”

I appreciate the humanity from around the world.

I have had tears because of people that care.

I am upset at some relatives that are mad at me because I was not at hospital when they were, and are trying to blame me.

My mum may meet Jimmy Carter at the Pearly Gates later this week.

The best thing to do these days while you are alive, is to try your best to better society.

That is really the best I can say.

Winter February 19, 2023 8:32 AM

Re: your mum

I wish you strength in these difficult days.

The best thing to do these days while you are alive, is to try your best to better society.

This is indeed the best thing to say, in every circumstance.

Clive Robinson February 19, 2023 12:34 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

“I am upset at some relatives that are mad at me because I was not at hospital when they were, and are trying to blame me.”

That is actually them deflecting their own feelings of guilt onto you, it happens quite often unfortunately.

It is not helpfull and the best thing you can do is ignore it, because they are in pain.

Something else you need to be aware of, any issue with the heart almost always causes some level of mental disturbance, why is not certain but most of the frontline medical profession will tell you about it.

At it’s worst after extended heart surgery it can give rise to delusions and paranoia. So much so it’s refered to as “pump paranoia”.

It is a temporary condition that can be expected to some extent with any heart related syncope.

Having had it rather more than a few times myself over the 100+ syncope events I’ve had I know that black cloud is coming my way. But importantly I now know that it’s an illusion, and these days I do my best to work through it by trying to get other patients and staff to laugh (mainly along with but at me[1]).

The best thing you can do for your mum is be there, be chearfull reminder her of funtimes had and suggest fun times in the future, lighten the mood, “talk happy”.

They say laughter is the best medicine, maybe not for the body directly, but the mind certainly. And if the mind is happy, it generally drags the body along for the ride as well.

I can not make you any promises, nobody can, but making people happy is a gift that costs you little and gives them much. In return you get happy memories shared. Such memories are a gold without weight, that will always bring cheer and a little warmth when recalled.

More than four decades after I was orphaned, I still remember the happy times every day, I have regrets, that we did not have more happy times.

So take a piece of advice from an old rouge,

Go make more happy memories, not regrets.

[1] It happens that most nurses are a lot smaller than me, and just me walking quieter than a ghost through a doorway in search of a cup ot tea can be both scary and inadvertly intimidating. So I sing quietly and boogie to the rythum or similar even do a Michael Jackson twirl or John Travolta Night feaver pose. I also tell a group of them a little story about how when I was young I used to date a lot of women smaller than myself, and how it never realy worked out. I say to them in a low and stightly husky voice “Imagine being on a date cuddled up lovingly an arm prospectively around your shoulders, your cheek against the chest and you look up lovingly… What do you see?” I change voice to the pragmatic and say “Yup a double chin and a lot of nostril hair, and that folks is why I grew a beard” it always gets a laugh and often that delightful two hands across the mouth bright eyed giggle. I become in their eyes an old rouge raconteur with tap dancing toes abd a big bushy beard not a scary dude. Similar with the Drs, I had one laughing so much she had tears of mirth running down her face when she was not nearly bent double with laughter.

MarkH February 19, 2023 1:58 PM


That’s an interesting hypothesis that dioxins might be synthesized prior to combustion, and is at least consistent with my tiny understanding of the Agent Orange and Seveso scenarios.

[1] If the principal (still evidence-free) risk of dioxin formation was while it was still contained, that would imply that the decision to vent-and-burn resulted in less hypothetical dioxin than the case of the cars continuing to “cook” and potentially exploding.

[2] Going from “we can imagine atoms re-arranging to form compound X” to actual synthesis sometimes needs thousands of lab hours and millions of dollars investment in reaction design and equipment.

MarkH February 19, 2023 2:06 PM

@Clive, continued:

[3] The accidental TCDD formation cases were in reactors containing mixes of different compounds, designed specifically to promote synthesis. Does any case starting with pure VCM meet the conditions to synthesize dioxins? I don’t know, and I’ve no reason to suspect that any of us do.

[4] Industry has produced hundreds of millions of tonnes of VCM. It seems certain to me that VCM has overheated inside pressure vessels hundreds — if not thousands — of times.

This poses a behavioral question: if highly toxic dioxins were formed in such incidents, how likely is it that it escaped public notice? Or that the experts on chemistry of these compounds failed to visualize this, and raise the alarm?

SpaceLifeForm February 19, 2023 5:43 PM

Re: mum status

Passed. Turns out she had cancer.

8 days ago, she seemed ok. I suspect she knew something was wrong, but kept it very well hidden.

I said my goodbyes less than 24 hours ago.

It really sucks, but at 84, she had a good life.

lurker February 19, 2023 6:33 PM

@MarkH, Ors
“This poses a behavioral question: if highly toxic dioxins were formed in such incidents, how likely is it that it escaped public notice?”

If dioxins were formed that way, would they survive polymerisation and be embedded in PVC? Hence the public warning, do not burn PVC?

Clive Robinson February 19, 2023 6:40 PM

@ MarkH,

“Does any case starting with pure VCM meet the conditions to synthesize dioxins?”

That would make it more a “physical” process than a “chemical” process.

We see this when we boil or fry meat or eggs. Less well known is you can “boil an egg” simply by preasure.

VCM is by comparison to proteins a simple chemical, but does that rule it out?

No, take the fuels Carbon monoxide and hydrogen, produced via the “town gas” gassifier process. If you don’t seperate them before puting them in even slightly pressurised containment they will interreact and cease to be fuels.

Which brings up,

“It seems certain to me that VCM has overheated inside pressure vessels hundreds — if not thousands — of times.”

Actually I would be cautious on that, VCM is as far as I know quite heat sensitive there are figures up on the Internet somewhere I’ve seen in the past whilst looking up PVC production. It’s a valuable “feed stock” thus “spoilage” would be undesirable.

It is known that making the worst of the dioxins is something you can do very inefficiently in your kitchen if you are suicidal enough (ie a viable enough terrorist threat to be on a list to watch out for). So extreams of heat and preasure are apparently not required.

Which brings up the question of catalysts, of which some common metals you would find at home that would easily get into “open barrel” burns…

Such conditions would likely exist inside a BLEVE as would the lack of oxygen.

Thus the mixing of the chemicals may have happened outside of any “single product” vessels.

The problem with dioxins is not creating them, but destroying them, whilst UV light does rapidly degrade them, getting UV light to them is not going to be easy. Once created dioxins are likened to “forever toxins” with an LD50 so low in some species you can not see it as a physical object and testing for it is I’m told “not easy” due to the way it binds to soils etc.

Just a single gram widely dispersed is going to represent a significant “health hazzard” based on some figures but is that actually true? Some say not for variois reasons.

How easy it would be or not to make that single gram in the uncontroled conditions of that “burn off” I’ve no idea, likewise what effects it would have as quite a few members of the dioxin family do not activate the AH receptor.

All of which is why I’ve been cautious to make any assumptions one way or another and I’m still looking for “information”. The problem is the usuall people I talk to about H&S with regards the more specialised non natural chemicals and their storage, don’t know and very much urge on the side of caution and words like “ill advised”, “toxilogical disadvantages”, “genetic modulators”, “carcinogenic promotion”, etc comming up in the conversation. Which are not exactly “milk and honey” statments.

The truth is “we don’t make dioxins” for any industrial or other purpose and they are only ever seen mixed in with all sorts of other less than bio-friendly chemical byproducts. So we don’t know very much about what they actually do to humans. Many studies show considerably less than you might expect bassed on the noise of talking about them.

Speaking of “milk” it is one of the major sources of dioxins and dioxin like chemicals in the human diet along with animal and fish lipids. Dioxin does not have an afinity for water but does for most fats/lipids be they animal vegtable or mineral. Thus the route into humans and animals is basically by oral ingestion.

The big lack of information problem we have is not if dioxins were produced but what else could have been produced?

Chlorine is not something you want in the natural environment in almost any form other than salts, and dioxins are just one of many chlorine based chemicals we would be better off without. What formed when the VCM was burned, some of the effects reported are similar but milder to those reported from chlorine gas use during WWI. That is wet membrane irritation / damage.

We just don’t have the information and I suspect that is not going to change any time soon if ever.

Nick Levinson February 19, 2023 6:41 PM

@ALL, @Variabli Bogositu, @modem phonemes, @Winter, & @Clive Robinson:


If I’m going to post about inadequate proofreading, I shouldn’t do inadequate proofreading on my own post.

In my post of the 16th 5:33a supra:

— The gene was named “MARCH1”, not “March 1”.

— The phrase “especially if an auto-.” should have been something like “especially if an auto-correction was applied and was itself erroneous.”

— The penultimate paragraph says “[h]e” but isn’t clear about the antecedent. I meant the BBC’s source who was a researcher.

@Variabli Bogositu:

I saw it before. It’s still good.

@modem phonemes & @Winter:

If you (@modem phonemes) are suggesting that the three types of documents should be prepared with a single app, that’s been tried via integrated apps, but many users prefer that apps be separate, which has an advantage: When an app has many commands (the word processor I’m using to write this has 55 commands in the File menu alone and that doesn’t include what’s in dialog boxes from that menu), usability requires having many shortcuts, but, if an app has a great many commands, having a great many shortcuts in the menus may be impracticable, requiring complex shortcuts that are somewhat difficult or too many shortcuts to remember. So, a user interface designer likely must either reduce the number of commands or decline to provide shortcuts for many of them. Integrated apps (and I don’t know who makes them anymore) are simpler to use, which is how their designers solved the problem of having too many commands, but which reduces the capabilities available to users.

Usability depends mainly on what users already do in order to lower the learning burden and increase user acceptance. If you want a non-IT job at a major employer and need to know word processing, they’ll likely ask about Microsoft Word and not LaTeX.

@Clive Robinson:

If I have to use a random-word generator, I’d rather not use software if I can’t be sure someone isn’t logging what I do. I’d rather use a book having nothing to do with passwords, predetermine a standard locus (say, the right-hand page, the 3d line from the top, the 2d word from the right), then flip to a few random pages and copy what’s at the predetermined locus.

A story of unknown reliability says a military commander wrote “UNA” on a letter draft and returned it to the typist/writer, who knew many abbreviations, but not that one. The commander’s assistant said it means “use no abbreviations”.

MarkH February 19, 2023 9:12 PM

Contamination Pt 1

@Clive, etc:

Our thread has been “contaminated” with evidence-free speculation about dioxin in E. Palestine.

We just don’t have the information and I suspect that is not going to change any time soon if ever.

Au contraire, there is already abundant testing and will be more, much of it done by parties eager to publicize the results. The eventual NTSB report is likely to provide an excellent summation of verified data.

I’ve yet seen no evidence that ANY combination of VCM, heat, pressure and air can give rise to any kind of dioxins.

Evidence, friends! Evidence, evidence!

A gram of fact is worth more than a tonne of speculation.

MarkH February 19, 2023 9:27 PM

Contamination Pt 2

Considering that vinyl chloride has been in mass production for more than 75 years, with hundreds of millions of tonnes produced, try to estimate:

• How many factories have made this stuff?
• How many factories have consumed it as feedstock?
• How many times have rail- or truck-borne VCM tanks been in post-crash fires?
• How many times have pressure vessels holding VCM been caught up in factory or lab fires?
• How many times has a VCM tank been “overcooked” by mistake or neglect of a factory worker?
• How many times has VCM gotten overcooked by some failure of automated process control?
• How many times have laboratories accidentally overcooked VCM?
• How many times have laboratories intentionally overcooked VCM, because knowledge of how materials behave in abnormal conditions is vitally important to industry?

What is your minimum plausible total?

MarkH February 19, 2023 9:43 PM

A tid-bit which might interest Clive … I saw a quote from the mayor of E. Palestine, describing the stress under which the decision was made to release and burn.

My guess is that the on-site folks were using temperature as a proxy for tank internal pressure, because temperature can readily be measured from a distance.

Anyway, the sudden perception of crisis was triggered by a sharp rise in temperature of one of the VCM tankers. The mayor said, “we had 15 degrees to make a decision,” memorably rendering temperature as a measure of urgency.

When more details come out, we will have actual figures for the tank temperatures they measured, and what temperature they were using as the threshold of explosion danger.

MarkH February 19, 2023 11:18 PM


I want to write something helpful or inspiring … so far, came up empty.

Simply, I’m honored that you include us in this deeply personal part of your journey.

If indeed she kept quiet while knowing something was wrong, then perhaps that was her way of continuing to care for you, as most of our moms took care of us countless times — a blessing beyond measure.

I look forward to reading your further messages, whenever you “come up for air.”

JG4 February 20, 2023 1:20 PM

Your skepticism is a virtue. BTW, speculation by scientists based on closely-related scientific literature isn’t quite the same as speculation by the easily misled based on disinformation from Russian-sponsored pseudoscience websites. The literature on production of dioxins (including 2,3,7,8-TCDD) in combustion processes involving PVC is endless. If there is a ray of hope here for less dioxins this time, it would be that, paradoxically, the high chlorine content of the vinyl chloride, relative to ad hoc burning of houses and trash piles, disfavors dioxins in the product mix. If the flame were low in catalytic metal content, that probably would help too. Copper was mentioned in the scientific literature as a catalyst that has been studied in PVC combustion. There was plenty of hot steel in proximity to the vinyl chloride this time, but I didn’t see a mention of iron as a catalyst. It frequently is in many other circumstances. The blue flame of burning wire insulation always caught my attention. Now it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I’ll take this as an indication that the evidence-free speculation thus far is aimed in an important direction:

Brown, Vance Call On Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA to Monitor East Palestine For Dioxins
2 days ago We urge OEPA and U.S. EPA to act immediately to coordinate and ensure regular testing and monitoring for dioxins remains a priority moving forward. This monitoring should not only be a part of a long-term strategy, it should be implemented immediately and communicated to the local community to ensure transparency.

Me again: It also is an indictment of the media and the EPA for not mentioning dioxins until they were forced into it. I suspect that the EPA will report that they are unable to detect dioxins until someone else proves that they are wrong again. [Crass and inflammatory comment about various TLAs not being able to find something superglued in dominant hand omitted.] I expect that the independent researchers will detect dioxins. The relevant concentrations of dioxins are extremely low, and the state-of-the-art instruments are quite expensive. The usual starting point would be a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-mass spec in the vernacular) with a base sticker price of $500K. I was very happy to find some weeks ago an article describing the use of an absorption cartridge to preconcentrate ambient vapors of plasticizers and perfluoro compounds for input to a GC-mass spec. The resulting sensitivity was excellent. There are related techniques for extracting compounds from soil and water. The right place to look for dioxins and dibenzofurans is on the surface of the soil, and in the surface waters.

Various nearby university researchers (e.g., at The Ohio State University) will be able to detect dioxins readily, if they are present. The best-case outcome is that they were produced only in small quantities. Speaking of which, carbonyl chloride (aka phosgene) should be produced only in small quantities. Of course, it only requires small quantities to produce crippling injuries. The dioxin is more a long-term health problem, not that breathing PAH-laden soot is good for you. I probably forgot to mention the fascinating and dark mini-history of Fritz Haber that I found recently. I assume that chemical security is in bounds here. My recollection is that the charcoal filters were highly effective for war gases. I’ll skip a long story about painting two-part epoxy thinned with acetone onto 1500 square feet of concrete.

BTW, it isn’t just 2,3,7,8-TCDD that is a problem. Combustion produces at least hundreds of different dioxins and dibenzofurans. Under some circumstances, the 2,3,4,7,8-pentachloro product is found in much higher concentrations than TCDD. It too is quite toxic, as are many others. The usual figure of merit is International Toxic Equivalents (I-TEQ) that captures an approximation of total health impact. The exact distribution of congeners will be a function of flame conditions, including catalysts. When I have more time, I may engage in further speculation about the product mixture using the related scientific literature to avoid the evidence-free designation. Just for the record, the industry don’t want to find dioxins. The industry don’t want the EPA to find them either. In spite of decades of railroad and other fire-involved industrial accidents with vinyl chloride, there is very little literature on the topic of burning monomer in relevant conditions.

Kelly Mitchell
@kellyemitchell · Follow
Out of curiosity, I scanned the NYT archives. Town-clearing vinyl chloride train derailments were freq in the 60s, 70s, & 80s
This was the same time that scientists were becoming aware of the cancer risks of VCM and the industrial lobby was gearing up to fight new regs.

SpaceLifeForm February 20, 2023 4:45 PM

@ MarkH

Thank you for your comment. Happy Tears.

As a SpaceLifeForm, you come into existence, you live, and then you die.

Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology.

It is just the way it works.

MarkH February 20, 2023 7:52 PM


Tears are powerful medicine — excellent for health, cost-free, and without lasting side effects!

As the Buddha lay dying, and saw his students’ distress at losing him, he said “decay is inherent in all compounded things.” Much more recently, the rock group Spirit wrote:

farther along, for all you know
you live your life till it’s time to go
and then you go farther along
farther along

Beautiful song … you might want to look it up.

MarkH February 20, 2023 8:04 PM


As I said, I’m keeping my mind open. If medically significant dioxin contamination is present, it’s nearly certain to be discovered and published, and then perhaps its origins traced back.

Concerning catalysis by iron, the usual situation for gas under pressure is that the nearest part of the flame front is at some remove from the jet’s exit from the pressure vessel. In such case, the iron and the flame are in different places.

“the industry don’t want to find dioxins” — at this moment, no doubt; but in general, I respectfully disagree. Insurance policies reduce the bottom line for businesses, but virtually all major corporations carry them, because failing to is a foolish suicidal risk.

In the U.S., failing to disclose grave toxicity is also a foolish suicidal risk.

MarkH February 20, 2023 8:15 PM

@JG4, part 2:

Severe toxicity of some dioxins has been known for more than 70 years. VCM has been known for 150 years.

Considering its enormous usage, commercial importance, and extremely simple molecular structure, I think it plausible that chloroethene (VCM) might be the most thoroughly investigated and characterized synthetic compound that has yet existed.

Burning in air? Any industrial or medical lab can do this. Heating in a pressure vessel? Any industrial or medical lab can do this.

It doesn’t much matter that the gear for detecting dioxins is expensive: if your lab doesn’t have it, you send your samples to a facility that does.

MarkH February 20, 2023 8:22 PM

@JG4, part 3:

Simply, virtually any investigator looking into VCM could uncover medically significant dioxin hazards, if such exist.

If you work in the industry, and you discover such a thing, you know that you, your co-workers, and the public at large could be endangered by such hazards.

If mishandling VCM really can create deadly dioxins, then most likely a fair number of people would have independently discovered this.

I don’t believe that every one of them would “hush it up” to make some rich capitalist happy.

If they didn’t hush it up, it would be on the Safety Data Sheets. That’s my interpretation, worth $0.02

JonKnowsNothing February 20, 2023 8:31 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, @ MarkH, All

There’s a documentary call Mission Joy (2021) which is a set of interviews between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It’s not only insightful but also very funny. Within the context of such documentaries, the two men share some wonderful and also sad experiences of their own lives.

Worth a watch. Especially the dance scene…

MarkH February 22, 2023 10:48 PM

Ohio Disaster, Pt 1

As we’re resting from speculation about a perhaps non-existent hazard, I offer some questions based on actual reportage.

[1] The venting of 4 vinyl chloride tankers was triggered by an alarming temperature rise in one of them, after many hours of proximity to / immersion in fire.

Why did the fire(s) burn for so long? What might have been done to extinguish them before explosion risk seemed intolerable?

[2] What role did the formation of the train (sequence of freight cars) play in the scope of the derailment and its aftermath?

Might there be reasonably economical ways to change the formation process for better safety?

MarkH February 22, 2023 10:53 PM

Ohio Disaster, Pt 2

[3] How much difference would high-tech brake systems have made?

Though they are certainly better for safety, I recently read a statement that one locomotive was positioned near the mid-length point of the train (distributed power).

If so, the train’s braking might have been better than the usual arrangement of all locomotives at the head end, and the advantage for ECP braking comparatively small.

[4] Is it practical to make tank cars more damage resistant (for example, using double walls)?

MarkH February 22, 2023 11:02 PM

Ohio Disaster, Pt 3

[5] How long did it take emergency crews to find out what the train’s cars were carrying, and what effect did any delays have on emergency response?

[6] Early reports (as I recall them) said that an automated defect detector reported a fault prior to the derailment. How much warning time did it give? What was the train crew’s response to that?

[7] How was the decision made to OK the return of residents to their homes, while airborne chemicals were still causing acute irritation?

[8] Was any accounting made for the danger to pets or small children from toxic residue on exposed surfaces?

MarkH February 22, 2023 11:10 PM

Ohio Disaster, Pt 4

As I’ve thought about this mess, a plausible remedy comes to mind:

Gross mechanical failure of train bearings, axles and wheels seems to be a leading cause of derailments.

With present technology, defect detection can be done at extremely low cost.

Automated defect detectors have prevented countless thousands of accidents, but existing fixed detectors are typically many miles apart.

Fixed detectors could be added at much closer spacings; but perhaps much better, each car could incorporate its own defect detection equipment. Freight cars already carry a prodigious weight of safety gear; the marginal cost of adding defect detectors might be quite small.

JonKnowsNothing February 23, 2023 2:03 AM

@MarkH, All

re: Gross mechanical failure .. defect detection can be done at extremely low cost

From a recent MSM report.

It seems that several years ago, the Government of Spain decided in buy new rolling stock for the train system in the northern part of the country. There are a number of different types of trains and there are a number of different methods for moving train cars down tracks, including different types of tracks.

Now, 3 years after the project started costing the paltry sum of €258m (£227.5m) they have discovered that the new trains are too wide to pass through some of the tunnels in the area.

iirc(badly) Eons ago in San Francisco.

The City purchased a whole fleet of new public transit buses. The buses were made in an Asian country and shipped to California. There was a big ToDo for the Big TaDa but there was a small (ahem) problem. The seats were designed for the posterior width of smaller framed people and the bigger framed bottoms of Californians overflowed the plastic molded formed seats installed in the buses. This was discovered during the Big TaDa.

All the seats had to be removed, re-engineered for more the generous proportions of American behinders, and reinstalled. The cost was not covered under any warranty.

One positive benefit of this discovery has been applied to nearly every park bench and every transit stop that still has a bench. The seat area is narrow, there is a physical divider between the seats and the bench length is shortened. This prevents people from lounging on the bench, laying down or if they can snake their way around the seat blocks the bench is too short to lay on. California Hospitality.


Search Terms

Secretary of state for transport

  • travel on the Asturian and Cantabrian networks affected by the
    delays would be free until the new [replacement] rolling stock began to come into
    service in early 2026.

Clive Robinson February 23, 2023 3:18 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

“or if they can snake their way around the seat blocks the bench is too short to lay on. California Hospitality.”

Not “Hospitality” but “waste of public resources”.

A friend sent me a very long list of things you can be arrested / detained / questioned for, by not just California Law Enforcment but those “rent-a-cop” types that give officious Mall-Cops a comparative good name.

Having read it I’m not sure even just sitting is actually “legal”.

Thus those benches are more grossly unatractive “art” than usefull “function” at best (a sure indicator of political camels nose if ever there was one).

ResearcherZero February 23, 2023 5:15 AM

“Monsanto is trying to have me disqualified because of this UAlbany investigation.”

a majority of his research on PCBs’ health impacts has been from studying the effects on that tribe. He said this work goes back to the mid-1980s.

Mum is no longer the word …ruling is effective immediately

Companies are definitely incentivized to silence their departing employees… [because it helps them keep] all the skeletons in the closet.

JonKnowsNothing February 23, 2023 11:33 AM

@Clive, ALL

re: I’m not sure even just sitting is actually “legal”.

You are correct. Sitting is illegal in California. It comes in a variety of legal restrictions, all of which can lead to arrest, fines, imprisonment and if you are really below the poverty level, you can be banished to another US State with prohibitions on returning.

Things that are illegal.

  • Sitting on a curb (the edge of the street)
  • Sitting on the ground (sidewalks but can expend to parks and walking paths)
  • Sitting in your car (legally parked)
  • Sitting in a variety of locations between sunset-sunrise.


  • If you want to sit in the park on a bench or grass, to have a picnic or eat lunch, you can be shot by any number of San Francisco Police, who will happily respond to anyone calling in claiming there is an “intruder” in the public park. You have 30 seconds to live, after the report is logged, so you won’t get to finish your taco-truck burrito.

It is selectively enforced.

As cities emulate one another, these laws or similar exist in other US cities.

lurker February 23, 2023 12:05 PM

1) “What might have been done to extinguish them before…”

In NZ dangerous goods fires in open country are allowed to burn for as long as it takes to verify/construct site bunding to prevent the material and fire extinguishing water flowing into adjacent streams/rivers.

4) Yes it is utterly practical to make tank cars more damage resistant, eg. double walls, but, this co$t$. Who is willing to pay?

MarkH February 23, 2023 2:53 PM

About 2 hours ago, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a very brief preliminary report on the E. Palestine rail disaster:

NTSB final reports typically take one or two years to complete, and for major incidents are extremely thorough.

One or more labor unions for railway workers might produce a separate report, likely to be a useful supplement to NTSB in terms of findings and recommendations.

MarkH February 23, 2023 3:14 PM

NTSB Preliminary Report, 1

[A] At the time of derailment, the train’s speed was about 47 mph (76 kph). The train was decelerating under dynamic (locomotive engine) braking, which on such a heavy train causes decelerations much smaller than the pneumatically operated wheel brakes can accomplish.

[B] The train had already been in dynamic braking, which the crew increased (with the intention of stopping) when they received a critical alarm report from a trackside automatic defect detector.

[C] The train soon went into emergency (mechanical) braking, presumably triggered by the parting of airbrake hoses as the cars derailed.

MarkH February 23, 2023 3:26 PM

NTSB Preliminary Report, 2

[D] The wayside defect detector which warned the crew (just a minute or so too late to avoid disaster) is about 19 miles (30 km) past the previous detector, seemingly consistent with my notion that more nearly spaced wayside detectors — or on-car detectors — might have prevented derailment.

News to me is that the detectors record the temperature for each axle, even when no alarm results, so NTSB was able to see a progression of failure on the hot bearing box: +38F (all temps relative to ambient) 30 miles before that detector generating alarm; +103F 19 miles before; and finally +253F at the final detector.

The first two measurements were below even the non-critical alarm thresholds; the final reading exceeded the critical alarm threshold.

MarkH February 23, 2023 3:42 PM

NTSB Preliminary Report, 3

[E] As I suspected, when the emergency response team monitoring the VCM tankers saw a sharp temperature rise in one of them, they were worried about spontaneous polymerization, which the monomer can do when overheated. Polymerization is exothermic, so this process can lead to a runaway reaction (nice stuff, this vinyl chloride).

[F] The wording of the report indicates that the fire had already been “mitigated” at the time, so spontaneous polymerization was the likely cause of rising temperatures.

[G] Polymerization (of unknown extent) might have implications for the formation of dioxins in the open-air burnoff. The toxicity of any formed dioxins — and their risks relative to the hazards of releasing raw VCM — are far from clear. NTSB plans “a review of the accident response, including the venting and burning of the vinyl chloride.”

Clive Robinson February 23, 2023 4:26 PM

@ MarkH,

“might have implications for the formation of dioxins in the open-air burnoff”

As I’ve indicated dioxins tend not to form in open-air burnoff due to the oxygen level. Thus it’s what gors on behind the “flame-front” in things like BLEVE events where dioxins come up. For obvious reasons this is dificult to asses.

But as also noted chlorine in the environment in any form is highly undesirable. We know from early medical reports of people suffering symptoms similar to early WWI gas attack that chlorine or chemical molecules containing it were in the air.

Many such molecules unlike dioxin that breaks down under the shorter wavelengths of UV (thus can be destroyed if dioxin gets in drinking water) don’t break down that way and are thus quite as persistent although only a smidge less dangerous.

The jury is kind of out on just how fatal dioxin actually is, not so on other chlorine based molecules.

So we should not be having an overly narrow focus on dioxin, but a wider focus on most chlorine based molecules that can cause harm. Thus loss of well being from the short term to the longterm not just in the open environment but in plants and bodies of the creatures that injest them along the food chain etc. As well as how such chlorine contaminated living things move geographically as they move the chlorine molecules up the food chain.

Likewise in ground water etc.

Previous US State and Federal agency reports that I’ve seen give me absolutly no confidence such information will be sought, let alone investigated, or reported.

MarkH February 23, 2023 4:54 PM


The more I read on the subject, the more clear it is to me that good public policy is to phase out production of chlorine-based compounds as quickly as practical.

JG4 February 24, 2023 8:27 AM

This is the most authoritative paper I have found thus far on the formation of dioxins in combustion settings. It appears that soot-rich conditions favor formation of dioxins and dibenzofurans. It no longer is evidence-free speculation that vinyl in a sooty flame produce toxins dangerous at the part per quadrillion level.

I am very happy to see that the independent troublemakers have arrived on scene with the intent of measuring dioxins. My prediction that the EPA and railroad authorities would not trip over themselves to measure it appears to be borne out. There has been very little mention in the lamestream press, in spite of a letter from two senators.

I highly recommend “Dark Waters” and “Erin Brockovitch.” It’s about time for some more movies in the mass poisoning genre.

The formation of dioxins in combustion systems
B.R Stanmore
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia
Received 2 January 2003, Revised 13 November 2003, Accepted 14 November 2003, Available online 23 December 2003.
Flame chemistry in incineration systems involves the formation of many organic products of incomplete combustion, including chlorinated species such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF). Because the latter are of environmental concern, a great deal of research has been expended on understanding their formation. There are two temperature windows in which they can form: the “homogeneous” route between 500 and 800 °C and the “heterogeneous” one at 200 to 400 °C. Homogeneous reactions, which are the result of the pyrolytic rearrangement of chlorinated precursors, such as chlorophenols and chlorobenzenes in the gas phase, have not been researched as extensively as the heterogeneous mechanism. Heterogeneous formation is a catalysed reaction, which takes place on the ash or soot particles present in combustion systems. There are conflicting views regarding the relative amounts of PCDD/F formed from precursors such as chlorophenols in comparison with the de novo process during commercial operations. The de novo reactions involve the oxidation and chlorination of any unburned carbon in the particulates. The reaction pathways for de novo PCDD/F are based on preexisting 3-ring carbon skeletons; single-ring chlorinated precursors are not intermediates…

MarkH February 25, 2023 12:33 AM

@Dioxin worriers:

I couldn’t conclude from JG4’s linked information whether burning vinyl chloride monomer in open air is likely to create dioxins. However, I have finally found a clear statement on a broader form of the question:

Combustion of vinyl chloride can produce dioxins …

source: EPA spokesperson, 19 February

But wait! Isn’t EPA part of the wicked conspiracy to hide E. Palestine dioxins from the public???

Maybe the murderers at EPA were so busy twirling their black mustaches and cackling at the doom of innocents, that they forgot their cover-up orders!

MarkH February 25, 2023 12:44 AM

@Dioxin worriers, 2:

The EPA went on to say that

Any dioxins from the controlled burn would have been dispersed in the atmosphere since February 6. EPA is working with our federal and state health partners to determine if additional sampling is needed and prepared to assist.

I can think of two reasonable bases for keeping dioxin testing from the top the EPA action list.

First, the evacuation order around the intentional burn might be presumed to have protected the public from inhalation or skin absorption of dioxins. If so, human ingestion would be almost entirely via food crops grown in the large fallout region. The time scale of this risk is weeks to months, based on harvest schedules.

MarkH February 25, 2023 12:50 AM

@Dioxin worriers, 3:

Second, the unburned chemicals released in massive amounts — some of them very intensely toxic — posed (and possibly continue to pose) a day-by-day or even minute-by-minute risk (that is, danger in real time) to the local population; in contrast, possible dioxin contamination is expected to enter people’s bodies with a time lag, and might be concentrations too low to have any appreciable health effects.

I note that JG4 reported above what I have confidently predicted: some folks will be testing for dioxins, whether or not governments do so. Truth will out.

MarkH February 25, 2023 1:06 AM

In other news related to public health risks from the E. Palestine disaster, researchers at the Superfund Research Center at Texas A&M University released their own analysis warning of nine pollutants which could cause long-term health risks to people in the area of the Ohio derailment.

This conflicts with EPA assessments of the air as safe to breathe.


1) The data come from EPA measurements of 79 compounds they are monitoring in air samples, taken between 4 and 21 February.

2) Some of the worrisome readings have dropped below danger levels, but not all. Health effects are likely to depend on the time/dosage profile; if the toxins clear soon, the limited exposure time could minimize health dangers (risk metrics seem to be based on chronic exposure).

MarkH February 25, 2023 1:21 AM

Prevention is Best

I offered above my thoughts on enhancing detection of axle and wheel failures on freight cars. Some things I learned from a WaPo article:

• temperature measurement is a legacy from the old days of journal bearings (defect detectors have been around for a long time); vibration monitoring is expected to give better monitoring of modern roller bearings (and, I speculate, could detect wheel faults as well)

• Norfolk Southern — operator of the disaster train in Ohio — has invested about USD 200,000 in the average detector on its network (perhaps including accumulated years of maintenance). I’ve taken a close look at NS wayside detectors, and this figure doesn’t surprise — way over-designed.

MarkH February 25, 2023 1:30 AM

Prevention is Best, 2

• At least one group has developed and licensed on-car vibration-based bearing failure sensors, but none have been deployed by railroads.

• Not only do the detectors send out data for each end of each axle — these data are sent to “a central help desk” (at least, in the Norfolk Southern system).

This means that with as little as few hundred lines of code, trend monitoring software might have called attention to the 65F temperature increase of the left-hand end of one axle over a distance of 11 miles, perhaps offering a warning that could have reduced the severity of the derailment, or even prevented it.

Clive Robinson February 25, 2023 4:31 AM

@ MarkH, ALL,

Re : Prevention is Best

“enhancing detection of axle and wheel failures on freight cars.”

Is not going to prevent dangerous chlorine based chemicals and any heat or combustion byproducts getting into the environment and causing harm.

You need to do two things,

1, Stop manufacture.
2, Remove existant product safely.

To do this you first need to,

“Find an exceptable replacment that does not contain chlorine and is not harmfull to the environment or living things if heated or combusted.”

Fixing train wheel bearings will not solve these issues.

MarkH February 25, 2023 5:08 AM


As I wrote above, I’d like to see such compounds phased out.

Even if this happens eventually, it will take years to accomplish, and railways will continue to carry other hazardous fluids.

Applying readily available technology to reduce failure rates seems like an excellent investment.

MarkH February 25, 2023 5:46 AM

Prevention is Best, 3

Something I forgot to include above …

The Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen (a labor union) has a standing policy recommendation that wayside defect detectors be placed at maximum intervals of 10 miles.

Their policy also calls for wayside detectors to be strategically placed about 5 miles outside of towns.

Though I haven’t found its location on a map, the detector which finally signaled an alarm seems to be near — or even inside — East Palestine.

Had the railroad applied such a policy, the derailment might have been prevented.

Clive Robinson February 25, 2023 6:16 AM

@ MarkH

Re : Non rational actors.

“As I wrote above, I’d like to see such compounds phased out.”

The question is “will they?”

As you note,

“Even if this happens eventually, it will take years to accomplish, and railways will continue to carry other hazardous fluids.”

The problem is the safer you make the railroads or other transportation system the more excuse you give the creators and purveyors of such hazardous items to carry on.

What few realize is that the biggest cause of the highly toxic and often persistant heat and combustion products is not the “supply side” bad as it currently is. No it’s “barrel burning” and similar of the compounds already out there, as they are “low cost” often “out of sight” solutions to significantly increase profit.

Thus actually it can be seen that, perhaps counter intuitively

“Applying readily available technology to reduce failure rates seems like an excellent investment.”

Is actually over the entire hazardous product life time actually a very bad investment indeed.

Clive Robinson February 25, 2023 7:23 AM

Killing Return Oriented Programming attacks.

Over the years attackers have found their toe-holds into systems reduced or removed by the likes of “Adress Stack Location Reorganisation”(ASLR).

This made “Return Oriented Programming”(ROP) attacks one of the few “easier” paths in left.

Well in the “OpenBSD Journal” a post by Theo de Raadt about the problem and a proposed solution “pinsyscall(2)” has been given,;sid=20230222064027

It actually gives a nice clear and easy to understand explanation of ROP at a more executive level than the usuall “dive right in” How-To’s.

JG4 February 25, 2023 11:29 AM

“Any dioxins from the controlled burn would have been dispersed in the atmosphere”

Here is a handy rule to keep in mind:

“If their lips are moving, they are lying.”

The function of politicians and their appointees is to protect donors. More pointedly, “To serve themselves first, their friends second, and the public last, if at all.” That process will continue to metastasize until the body dies or goes through a purging event. One path to the body politic dying is the failure of reproduction from endocrine disruptors.

Let’s start with the vapor pressure and melting point. Typically, the melting point is higher than the boiling point. The dioxins are superglued to the soot.


Vapor pressure 1.5 × 10−9 mmHg

Melting point 305 °C (581 °F; 578 K)

Further lies in the next article. By the way, dead animals are an important safety clue. Canaries as it were. That clearly was not caused by acute dioxin toxicity. Many other toxics were formed in the flames, beyond hydrogen chloride and carbonyl chloride. Whether any of the other toxics were present in important quantities remains to be determined. It will not be determined by “testing for everything that was on that train.” Not all of the soot and dioxin “dispersed into the atmosphere.” A lot of it landed in the local area. If they were serious about safety, the quote would be, “We’re testing for all of the toxics that were likely to be formed in the conflagration, including dioxin.”

Environmental agency tells Ohio residents it’s ‘safe to return’ to their homes after toxic train derailment
Niamh Lynch Sky News reporter @niamhielynch Friday 17 February 2023 14:27, UK

has told Ohio residents it is safe to return to their homes after a toxic train derailment despite pets and wildlife being found sick and dying.

finding their cars and lawns covered in soot.

“We’re testing for everything that was on that train.”

The scientific literature cited previously indicates that dioxins form on catalytic soot particles in one of the reaction pathways. Even if dioxins didn’t form on the soot, they would condense there as soon as the plume cooled below the boiling point. You may have noticed some soot was present in the combustion conditions. Other literature shows that soot is associated with high carbon monoxide levels, and yet other literature shows that more dioxin formation is linked to high CO levels in combustion processes. The same literature shows that burning pure PVC in high-CO conditions generates the most dioxin of any plastic. You probably could do worse by burning PCBs. As noted previously, burning VC will have the same nominal flame chemistry as burning PVC. I accept that a lot of the dioxins did disperse into the atmosphere along with the soot, where some will remain until the soot falls to the ground. Likely in rain or snow. Some of the dioxin that survives the trip will go into the soil, where it will remain for 50 to 100 years. The soot will tend to protect the dioxin from UV degradation. As will the soil.

Apparently, someday they might test for dioxins, but the fact that they didn’t do it yet is conclusive proof that Regan and everyone else was lying about it being safe to return home. Without a full workup, they couldn’t know that it was safe. You might want to wear a hazmat suit while cleaning the dioxin-laden soot off of your car and house. Good luck getting the soot out of the lawn where your kids play. I wonder why the captive media are not showing pictures of the soot covered houses, soot covered cars, and soot covered lawns.

“Maybe someday we’ll check it out.” This is conclusive proof that he was lying about it being safe to return home. They can’t know until the dioxin testing is done. It isn’t a hypothetical future threat to breathe toxic soot, whether or not it contains dioxins.

US EPA considers future tests for dioxins in East Palestine
Two weeks after emergency responders released vinyl chloride from tanker cars in East Palestine, Ohio, questions about the presence of toxic pollutants known as ‘dioxins’ lingered.
WTAE Updated: 7:24 AM EST Feb 24, 2023 Lia Launtz Mike Valente Reporter

“I’d have to consult my team,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Feb. 21, when asked at a news conference whether authorities had tested for dioxins in East Palestine. “I’m not quite sure if we’re testing for dioxins yet. I know that it’s under discussion.”

MarkH February 25, 2023 1:12 PM


I’m not going to waste time on further speculation about dioxins.

As you yourself wrote, the “troublemakers” are coming and will be testing for dioxins. Truth will out. A gram of DATA is worth more than a ton of SPECULATION. Either the environmental dioxin toxicity there is extraordinarily high, or in the range of U.S. towns without such an event.

As far as I know, the mass die offs (especially of fish) could be explained by (a) the horrible stuff that leaked from damaged tankers — including some vinyl chloride that was NOT burned, and (b) exposure to gases from the VC burn (like hydrogen chloride) which quickly dissipated.

The fish were not evacuated.

MarkH March 2, 2023 3:51 AM

@JG4, all:

If anybody is on the lookout for — or happens to catch — dioxin testing results from the region of the E. Palestine rail disaster, please mention it in the comments!

I’ve seen no mention yet of actual testing.

But I have found out, that for less than $1000 you can get a sample test results within a week. JG4 perceptively noted that soot from the burnoff would be a fruitful place; anyone finding noticeable amounts of soot could use that as a most likely place to sample for dioxins.

The fast-and-cheap test uses a clever technique called ELISA. In concept, it mixes (a) the AH receptor protein which gets spoofed by dioxins; (b) a known non-dioxin compound which also binds to AHR; and (c) the sample under test.

MarkH March 2, 2023 3:58 AM

ELISA continued:

The mixture described above sets up a competition: the more dioxins in the sample, the fewer receptors will be bound to the non-dioxin reference compound.

An assay then reveals the proportions.

A really cool thing about ELISA for this purpose, is that to the extent that dioxin toxicity results from binding to AHR (as is believed), the ELISA result is a pretty good approximation to TEQ (toxic equivalent, in this case to TCDD).

Exact TEQ requires identifying each compound in the dioxin family, how much, and weighting them by their toxicities — probably a big expensive slog.

But because the more toxic dioxins will bind more AHR, and the weaker ones less, the ELISA result comes close to TEQ.

MarkH March 2, 2023 4:10 AM

ELISA testing is easy and cheap enough that it could be done by:

• any homeowner or group of homeowners
• the town government
• the county government
• the state EPA
• relevant departments of any local university
• non-profit organizations interested in public health or environmental protection
• local hospitals or clinics
• attorneys seeking to represent residents
• any inquisitive sod who stops by
• farmers concerned about safety of their families or customers

How many of these would wait 10 minutes before calling the local TV station, if they got a scary test result? On the other hand, if dioxin results are not exceptional, they’d want to keep it quiet, because a few negative results don’t prove that broad sampling wouldn’t find something.

Every passing day without the alarm being raised, makes it seem less probable that there is major dioxin contamination. My bet: if there is any, we’ll know by the end of March.

MarkH March 2, 2023 10:28 PM

Rail Safety News, 1

The U.S. EPA announced today that it has ordered railroad operator Norfolk Southern (NS) to test for dioxins in and around the site of the E. Palestine disaster. [Why EPA isn’t doing the testing itself, I don’t know.]

EPA has already ordered NS to pay costs of cleanup, including work done by EPA itself.

Also, the tracks at the derailment site have been torn up — temporarily — to enable cleanup of the roadbed, which presumably absorbed significant amounts of spilled fluids.

That the line is shut down for at least several days may be seen as ironic, considering that NS was accused of rushing disaster response to get the trains rolling as soon as possible.

MarkH March 2, 2023 10:37 PM

Rail Safety News, 2

The U.S. Senate is considering a surprisingly comprehensive rail safety bill, including broadening the definition of hazardous cargo trains (the accident train was not so classified), and increasing accident response planning and railroad financial liability.

It would require infrared “hot box” detectors at 10 mile intervals, which might have saved E. Palestine.

It also requires at least 2 crew (having a single person aboard may seem incredibly stupid, but one the major U.S. freight carriers is aggressively planning to do so).

It also provides a little funding for safety R&D. The sponsors include prominent Republicans and Democrats, so it might well pass in the Senate. The House? That’s another story…

MarkH March 2, 2023 10:46 PM

Rail Safety News, 3

Many readers may be aware of a horrible rail crash in Greece, which has killed at least 57 people (the tally is likely to increase).

A high-speed passenger train (capable of 200 kph) crashed head-on into a freight train, although the section of rail line is double-tracked.

Early reports cite a broken railway switch, and a station master waving the passenger train through a red signal.

I haven’t seen whether the operators of either train survived; I assume that they all perished.

Impoverishment and neglect seem likely to be contributing factors.

JonKnowsNothing March 3, 2023 12:13 AM

@MarkH, All

re: It also requires at least 2 crew (having a single person aboard may seem incredibly stupid, but one the major U.S. freight carriers is aggressively planning to do so).

This is going to get push back from the “fully automated fleet” transportation technology companies. These are plans for zero-humans on board a variety of transportation systems.

We have some already; called drones. Especially the big ones that drop bombs, which are capable of international travel and cross any number of international airspace borders on the way to their targets. All airspace border crossings are approved by their respective governments.

There are plans for fully automated semi-tractor trailer trucks in the USA, running on different protocols but chained in long lines running up and down the USA interstate system.

Currently, in the USA semis are limited to 2 trailers behind a tractor. One of our beefs with international trade agreements is that other countries run bigger rigs and more trailers. However, since money rules the USA, those agreements had to be accepted. The countries with bigger rigs promised not to overpower US roadways, since our roads are not designed for the wider rigs and which barely fit in a lane.

Automated trains, as you have been researching, are not just long-rail but many urban rail systems are automated trains with no drivers. The Bay Area/San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland/Berkeley have fully automated trains, although some systems do have a human overseer for emergencies only.

Big cargo ships run with skeleton crews, sometimes less than a dozen sailors. Plans are to run those fully automated with satellite telemetry controls. No humans on board.

So, while I think having people on board and in control is a good thing, there’s big bucks betting that humans driving semis, doing delivery, navigating ocean freighters are of zero value.

A funny reference to the above is the Classic Clarke & Dawe routine about an oil tanker that dumped tons of oil near Australia.

Video Search:

Clarke and Dawe – The Front Fell Off – 1991

MarkH March 3, 2023 1:25 AM


I have no problem with airport shuttle trains, or BART, running automatically. They operate in highly controlled environments, and are usually well maintained.

Freight rail operations are very complex and irregular. They run across hundreds of thousands of highway crossings, along backyards, adjacent to busy highways and through dense urban centers. Some even run along the middle of busy streets in towns.

Many of them make stops at industrial customers. They derail; couplings break; diesel engines catch fire; brake hoses part … and axles fail.

Well-trained human eyes, minds and hands are needed aboard the train. Everybody can understand this, except greed-crazed men in expensive suits.

JG5 September 9, 2023 1:33 PM

You heard it here first. The only reason that you’d trust this unknown news outlet is that they were the first to get hardwood shampoo for asking questions.

East Palestine dioxins thousands of times higher than control: Scientist

“We found, in soil versus two controls, dioxin levels anywhere between 27,000% and 164,000%. There is no doubt that dioxins are a problem in the soil on Taggart Street,” Smith told NewsNation.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency told NewsNation their test results done before April 18 showed only 124 parts per trillion, whereas Smith’s findings worked out to 600,000 parts per trillion.

They aren’t testing for dioxins/dibenzofurans outside either. The reason that they don’t want to test is fairly obvious.

Independent testing of furnace filters shows elevated dioxin levels in East Palestine
by: Jennifer Rodriguez Posted: Jul 5, 2023 / 07:15 PM EDT Updated: Jul 5, 2023 / 07:15 PM EDT

“It does suggest that the dioxin burden on people in this community has dramatically increased as a result of the toxic plume fallout,” said Scott Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer with Eco Integrated Technologies.

The EPA is not testing inside homes and says they have a reason.

MarkH September 9, 2023 4:39 PM


Thanks very much for the links! At intervals I’ve searched for E. Palestine dioxin test data, those are the first numbers I’ve seen.

newsnationnow is highly rated for accuracy and neutrality by a site I use to get a quick score on unfamiliar sources.

I hope these reports can be used to bludgeon EPA into stepping up. It may be helpful that at least some of Ohio’s federal legislators seem to take this disaster seriously. I wonder, what are state and county agencies doing?

PS Send my regards to JG4

Clive Robinson September 9, 2023 6:46 PM

@ JG5, MarkH, ALL,

Re : East Palestine dioxins thousands of times higher than control.

This is not at all unexpected, in fact it was highly suspicious at the time and caused much argument, which I’d bee keen to avoid again.

As pointed out at the time Dioxins are a well known byproduct of burning, especially of the sort that causes that thick black rolling almost oily look and movment, that was so obvious in East Palestine.

It’s the same sort of low temprature house hold rubbish –plastics– in a barrel fire that makes the ground beneath very toxic and dioxin rich, and why you should either not have them or keep your children and pets well out of the area at all times, for many many years.

That is we knew by a very vast preponderance of scientific evidence that is extrodinarily well known and in all sorts of Health, Safety and Environment notices going back decades that dioxins were going to be there, before we even knew what was burning because it was obvious because of the type of fire. But… then being told what had been burned told us we would see one heck of a lot of dioxins, all going into the environment far and wide, again from a vast preponderance of scientific evidence.

Then something very strange happened… Dioxin was not found for some reason by the EPA tests… Why should be the topic of a properly independent equiry that can properly analyse finacial records of all the entities involved.

As for,

“The only reason that you’d trust this unknown news outlet is that they were the first to get hardwood shampoo for asking questions.”

I can give you another reason to trust them but in the opposit direction.

If you look at who owns the major part of the railway company shares, and likewise the normall US MSM company shares, you will find they are strongly linked together.

Others have suggested that “corporate HQ” got orders for share price reasons not to report East Palestine except very minimally.

At you might remember originally one of the things I complained about was the lack of US MSM news reporting on it. So much so it was suspicious just on the face of it even though back then we did not know of the corporate holdings situation.

Another thing we noted that was odd when found out was the Rail Company ordering the uncontroled burning to the Fire and other First Responders at the time of the accident… I noted it was a crazy thing to do as often the trackside is used as “common ground” for other services like power, gas, communications and even water and sanitation to use.

As I’ve indicated it was open knowledge that such “burning off” would have two effects,

1, It would spread combustion products far and wide into the environment where they could not be cleaned up.

2, Burning off the materials would get the railway open way way faster.

Thus there would be a huge mess miles in diameter, and much evidence would be destroyed before it could be collected. That which remained would be cleaned up and removed and destroyed so the railroad would be quickly reopened and obviously the increasing rate of profits that made it such a fine investment maintained.

I’ll leave it at that for now for others to followup the facts and then join in the conversation.

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