Previously aired video above shows East Palestine residents seeking answers at town hall
(WJW) — Local health departments are responding to the public’s concern over toxic chemicals released into the air, water and soil after the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine.
Below is a list of the communities that have issued statements and responses:
About 60 miles west and north of the train derailment site, the City of Akron and Summit County health officials say “no air pollution was brought (their) way,” according to a joint statement.
“While this was a major life-disrupting event for those who live in that area, the air pollution from the events was transported to the south and east by the winds,” said Sam Rubens, Administrator of the local air agency, Akron Regional Air Quality Management District, a service of Summit County Public Health. “We live about 60 miles west and north of the scene, so no air pollution was brought our way. We have no concerns about the pollutants locally. There is no action that needs to be taken by our local residents.”
Akron officials say that because the source of Akron’s drinking water is from the upper Cuyahoga River Watershed within the Great Lakes Basin, the risk of contamination from the accident in East Palestine is extremely low.
“In Summit County, our water supply and air quality are tested daily,” said County Executive Ilene Shapiro. “There is no indication that our water or air have been impacted by the events in East Palestine.”
Avon Lake Regional Water issued a statement on Facebook saying the chemical release “does not” affect the Lake Erie watershed or the water quality of Avon Lake Regional Water customers.
“The affected watershed is the Ohio River, and the current of the Ohio River flows in a southerly direction from the crash site,” it says.
Cleveland City Council released a statement Friday, saying the city’s “water is safe.”
“The Cleveland Water Department has issued a statement explaining that the events in East Palestine do not affect Cleveland’s Lake Erie Water Source. Cleveland’s air has not gotten worse after this accident. Air quality is closely monitored by the Division of Air Quality within the Cleveland Department of Public Health,” according to the statement.
Geauga Public Health says that Geauga residents are “not in any immediate danger” and it continues to monitor the situation, the department tweeted on Wednesday.
“If information changes and there is indication of danger to Geauga residents the information will be posted to the GPH Facebook page,” the tweet said.
In a statement on Facebook, North Canton their water supply was safe.
“We would like to reassure all North Canton water distribution customers that the North Canton Public Water System (PWS) supply is safe, secure, and not impacted by this disaster in any way,” the post said.
It went on to say: “The North Canton PWS sources water from underground (aquifers). Comparatively, East Palestine utilizes surface water from sources such as the Ohio River, which are by nature more susceptible to hazardous material contamination from surface-level disasters such as the one unfolding there now. North Canton’s underground sources are located within and immediately surrounding North Canton city limits, a significant land distance from East Palestine. Moreover, should contaminated surface water from East Palestine work into their area’s ground water, it would still not be capable of impacting North Canton groundwater; there is no connecting aquifer between North Canton underground water sources and those surrounding East Palestine.”
Health officials in Tuscarawas County tweeted that there is “no immediate threat to county residents, and (they) will post a notice if the threat level changes at any point.”
“We at the Tuscarawas County Health Department will be prepared to help if/when we are called upon,” the tweet said. “Rest assured that air and water quality is a vital concern to us, and we are also monitoring the situation locally. Should any action become necessary in the future, we will share information on our Facebook page and with local media.”
The large scale of the East Palestine train derailment has caught the attention of numerous National and State agencies, including the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health.
The EPA has created a website, here, listing public drinking water test results, Ohio River sampling results and surface water sampling results.
Hundreds of residents showed up at East Palestine High School on Wednesday evening where state and federal Environmental Protection Agency representatives were on hand to offer help, but the event turned into more of a public forum. Residents were given an opportunity to stand and ask questions.
Representatives from Norfolk Southern were supposed to attend the event but canceled, citing concerns for their safety.
At the forum, the EPA promised to stay in the area “as long as necessary.”