Ohio officials have urged residents living near the train derailment site in East Palestine to only use bottled water over concerns of potential health risks from hazardous chemicals released into the Ohio River.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine stated that despite the pollution, it did not pose an immediate risk to the five million people who rely on the Ohio River for drinking water. However, out of caution, he and other state officials recommended that those using private wells near the crash site should switch to drinking bottled water for now.
Ohio Heal Director Bruce Vanderhoff said, “For right now, I think bottled water’s the right answer.”
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH), when asked if he would feel “comfortable” moving back into his home if he lived near the site of the train derailment disaster in East Palestine:
“I would be drinking the bottled water … But I think I would probably be back in my house.” pic.twitter.com/OIIEWteehJ
— The Recount (@therecount) February 14, 2023
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio have expressed feelings of uncertainty and concern following a train derailment that left the local air, water and land in question. Reports of sick or dead animals, strange odors and other symptoms of contamination prompted an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA tested the area for hazardous chemicals such as vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate. As a result of their findings, some of these substances were burned off in a controlled manner while others spilled into waterways creating a “plume” that moved down the Ohio River.
Local authorities are monitoring the situation but encouraged residents to take precautionary steps until more data is available regarding what elements may still be present in their environment.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has estimated that around 3,500 fish were killed as a result of the chemical spill from the derailment in East Palestine. Tiffani Kavalec, heading the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s water management subdivision, said in a news conference Tuesday that this plume of “fire combustion chemicals” was slowly making its way towards Huntington, West Virginia at about 1 mph and becoming ever more diluted. She added that the EPA did not deem these pollutants a threat to drinking water because they are quickly diluted by the Ohio River.
To further ensure safety, Kavalec stated that water sampling is being done at various points along the river to confirm no contaminants remain in public drinking sources.