Energy & Environment

Ohio officials confirm public water near East Palestine is safe after train derailment

Ohio officials said Wednesday that they have confirmed the water for the town of East Palestine is safe to consume after completing tests on wells that lead into the town’s municipal water system following the train derailment there earlier this month

Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) office said in a release that tests on five wells detected no contaminants in “raw” water. Officials also tested “combined, treated water” from the five wells and did not detect any contaminants related to the derailment. 

“With these tests results, Ohio [Environmental Protection Agency] is confident that the municipal water is safe to drink,” the release states. 

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine provides an update on the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Orsagos)

According to the release, contaminants would likely not have gotten into the wells that serve the water supply, but officials tested the combined, treated water soon after the derailment occurred on Feb. 3. 

The Norfolk Southern train derailed reportedly because of a mechanical failure, causing hazardous materials to leak into the air. Officials ordered thousands of people living near the derailment to evacuate for a few days last week as the toxic chemicals escaped the boxcars. 

Residents were allowed to return but were cautioned to drink from bottled water while officials conducted safety testing. DeWine told CNN in an interview on Wednesday that the guidance was issued out of “an abundance of caution.” 

Officials permitted a “controlled release” of the chemicals to avoid a potential explosion that could have posed a more significant danger to the local community. They directed vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing, explosive substance that was one of the materials on the train, into a trench to burn it off.

The state advised residents who get their drinking water from private wells to have an independent consultant test the well water and to continue drinking from bottled water until those tests are completed.

Tags East Palestine East Palestine Mike DeWine Mike DeWine Norfolk Southern train derailment

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