Officials Say Water Is Fine Near Ohio Train Derailment, But Watch the Creek Behind On-Scene Reporter


Officials in East Palestine, Ohio, are stating that the water near the site of a horrific train derailment is safe to drink, but what residents are seeing on the ground is telling a different story.

On Feb. 4, 50 cars from a Norfolk Southern Railway train derailed near East Palestine — many of those cars were carrying toxic chemicals. Residents were told to evacuate as officials burned off some of the chemicals, which sent toxic gas into the air.

Now, the residents have returned home, and according to local outlet KDKA-TV, the EPA is reporting that the water is safe for residents to drink.

However, as the reporter was covering the story, people noticed that there were still yellow and white floats in the river that were being used to clean up the toxic chemicals.

That and the sight of thousands of dead fish in the river are causing many to question the EPA’s statement, believing that there is still a very real danger lurking in the water.

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The residents have every right to be concerned about this. This is a massive environmental catastrophe, and no one knows how far exactly the contamination has spread — or how bad that contamination is.

Residents are not getting a straight answer from the authorities, who claim that everything is fine, but events on the ground are telling residents a rather different story.

Is there more contamination from this derailment than we’re being told?

This is not some remote or desolate area; this is a populated area full of residents. There are thousands of people who rely on that water in order to drink, bathe, etc. They deserve to know for certain whether the water in their area is safe to use.

But instead, they are being stonewalled in their attempts to discover what is happening in their own community. No one, either from the local government or the federal government, has acknowledged the seriousness of their plight.

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Meanwhile, Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio released a statement on Twitter regarding the disaster: “I am dedicated to ensuring that the relevant authorities do not use the tests conducted as a permission slip to pack up and go home. This is a complex environmental disaster with impacts that may be difficult to assess in the short term. Long-term study will be imperative.”

Sen. Vance is right on point here. It is the responsibility of the authorities to give the citizens an honest assessment of the damage done by this disaster and to ensure their safety and well-being during the clean-up period.

It is not enough to conduct one quick test of the water and declare that everything is safe, as that puts the very lives of thousands of residents at risk.

As long as the sight of clean-up equipment and dead fish appears, it is safe to assume that the water is not completely safe to drink, and the residents have every right to be skeptical of such claims.

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Peter Partoll is a commentary writer for the Western Journal and a Research Assistant for the Catholic Herald. He earned his bachelor's degree at Hillsdale College and recently finished up his masters degree at Royal Holloway University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @p_partoll.