Parents of Miami University students ask Oxford leaders about water quality

Questions followed East Palestine, Ohio train derailment that led to toxins release.

During Oxford City Council’s Feb. 21 meeting, some spoke on the safety of the city’s water condition, following fears of water contamination arising from East Palestine, Ohio, and the Ohio River.

Oxford Service Director Mike Dreisbach took to the podium to clear up some concerns citizens have about Oxford’s water supply.

“We’ve had a handful of questions from some parents of students in Miami [University] about the water quality and our vulnerability to the train derailment in East Palestine,” Dreisbach said. “We are totally disassociated from the Ohio River. We’re far off the gradient and there’s absolutely zero threat to the city’s water supply from the incident.”

The announcement came a day after no detectable chemicals were found in the Ohio River after its preventative closure.

Councilor Alex French also spoke on the East Palestine train derailment.

“As a small town that also has a railroad running right through the middle of it, it’s particularly hard to hear the news out of East Palestine,” French said. “So our thoughts and hearts are with them as they recover from this climate disaster.”

With train tracks crisscrossing nearly every community, Butler County’s emergency officials told the Oxford Press and Journal-News a toxic disaster like the East Palestine train derailment could “easily happen here,” but they say they are uniquely prepared for it.

The Incident Management Team from the Butler County Emergency Management Agency went to East Palestine right after it happened, sending a team of 10 first responders — after receiving an urgent call through the Fire Chief’s Association Response Plan — to organize resources that were flooding in from all over.

EMA Director Matt Haverkos said there are a number of fire departments and officials throughout the county that have the certification so they classify as a “top tier” hazardous materials team.

“We have a Type 1 hazardous materials team so there’s only a few of those throughout the state of Ohio,” Haverkos said. “That basically is a federal metric of having the equipment and the expertise to respond to these large scale disasters, ours is made up of primarily West Chester, Hamilton and Middletown’s fire representatives and it expands a little bit wider than that, over the years we’ve added on other departments that have personnel and resources that can build out that team.”

Staff Writer Denise Callahan contributed to this report.

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