Local water and air not affected by East Palestine train crash and release of toxins, officials say

There is no indication that any Southwest Ohio water supply or air quality are affected by the release of toxic chemicals following a fiery train crash earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio, according to local water utility and public health officials.

“There is no risk to our local watershed, aquifer and drinking water supply here in Butler County,” said Tim McLelland, manager of the Hamilton to New Baltimore Groundwater Consortium. “This occurred in a completely different watershed and aquifer area from us, over 280 miles away. There is no way that any contamination leaving this site would have an effect on our area here in Butler County.”

The Groundwater Consortium’s focus is water protection, including having a plan of action to prevent contamination of sources of local water.

Officials with the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency — which monitors air quality in Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties — say they are not aware of any air quality threats from the derailment and are not advising local residents to take specific actions related to air pollution because of it.

RAPCA officials analyzed wind direction and velocity since the Feb. 3 incident on the eastern edge of Ohio and say the wind has been blowing to the east, northeast or southeast, not toward this area.

Officials do advise anyone considering traveling to the East Palestine/East Liverpool area to check the latest update from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before going.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Friday in East Palestine, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board. Vinyl chloride was slowly released into the air last week from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.

Concerns are growing about the potential environmental impact of the crash. Some of this is fueled by misinformation on social media, though state and federal environmental agencies are monitoring the situation for potential impacts.

U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio issued a statement Monday assuring people that air and drinking water tests by state and federal agencies, the Ohio National Guard and Norfolk Southern have been “encouraging.”

“We continue to monitor environmental reports from multiple agencies about the quality of the air and water in the region. I have heard alarming anecdotes about contaminated waterways and effects on wildlife. I encourage anyone with credible reports of environmental harms to contact my office. In the meantime, we will continue to engage with the relevant agencies and monitor the situation in the region,” said the Ohio Republican.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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