Ohio’s Water Becomes Toxic After Chemicals Mix In

By Lauren Dulatre

Ohio’s main resource for water became unusable when a train transporting toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, due to a controlled explosion, and contaminated the water on February 3rd. As soon as the incident happened, a blaze of fire lasted for days which resulted in the evacuation of multiple residents, but the evacuation order was later lifted five days later after air and water samples around the area showed to officials that the area was safe.

Michael S. Regan, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has told residents, authorities are focused on keeping them safe. “This incident has understandably shaken this community to its core,” said Regan, “The community has questions and they deserve answers. I want the community to know that we hear you, we see you, and that we will get to the bottom of this.” Regan has also stated that the agency has full authority to use their enforcement capabilities over the crisis and it will stay there “as long as it takes” to ensure the safety of the community. 

Regan has also stated the plans from the agency to hold the train company Norfolk Southern accountable as the investigations continue of the incident. The EPA then issued a notice of accountability to the company, already having signed it indicates that it will be responsible for the cleanup. Residents in East Palestine have expressed their frustration at a community meeting when the train’s operator did not appear and voiced out their building mistrust in the assurances of their safety.

Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, has requested the immediate support of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two weeks after the train derailment. DeWine also requested the CDC to send medical experts immediately to the area and counsel community members who have questions and/or maybe experiencing symptoms from the contaminated water. Regan has also encouraged residents to report any kind of adverse symptom they experience so it can be gathered and researched to ask for help from the state health department. 

So far from the train incident, about 3,500 fish have died in Ohio’s waterways according to the director of Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources, Mary Mertz stated. “None of the twelve species that were affected were not listed as endangered or threatened, but it is still a loss of life.” stated Mertz. The estimation from the death of fishes came after initial sampling and testing by the state agency. 

Though the agencies have been trying to figure out whether or not the water is still undrinkable and contaminated, residents from East Palestine have expressed their frustrations and concerns. “Is it ok to still be here? Are my kids safe? Are the people safe,” stated resident Lenny Glavan. Multiple crew’s decisions to conduct controlled detonations of some of the tanks only furthered residents’ concerned questions. 

“My concern is how many of those kids are laying in their bed in East Palestine right now that are not safe,” said resident Jami Cozza, “I absolutely do not trust them.” 

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