Toxic chemicals from a train derailment in Ohio may spread 700 miles or more through the Ohio River to neighbouring states, officials in Indiana revealed today.
A train carrying vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals derailed on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. After the derailment, authorities decided that a “controlled burn” of the chemicals was appropriate, supposedly in order to prevent a much larger explosion from occurring.
However, this controlled burn ultimately released toxic substances such as butyl acrylate to be released into the atmosphere. An evacuation order was issued for everyone within a one mile radius, but this was recalled last week. Photos and videos show giant clouds over the area of the toxic substances being released.
With the chemicals leeching into the river, authorities in other states are concerned that they could spread much further, potentially contaminating the water along the way.
In Indiana, The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility is monitoring their water intake in Indiana, officials revealed on Monday.
“There is a slim chance that we will detect contamination from this spill at our site because our structure is around 700 river miles away from the spill,” they said in a statement reported by local media. “However, the [EWSU] is continuously testing and staying vigilant of the river conditions. In the event of detection close to us, EWSU will use carbon to absorb the contamination.”
West Virginia also expressed concerns about possible contamination from the disaster.
Last Wednesday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice confirmed that Weirton, a town in their northern pan-handle close to East Palestine, said that officials had move to a second source of water, which was done “in an abundance of caution” to keep the community safe.
On Sunday, West Virginia American Water said that it was enhancing their water treatment process following the spill of chemicals in the Ohio River, as well as installing a second water intake into the Guyandotte River for back-up purposes.
Currently, they have not detected any change. “The health and safety of our customers is a priority, and there are currently no drinking water advisories in place for customers,” WVAW said in a statement.
Following the evacuation order, federal and local officials informed residents that the air was safe to breathe, and that the water supply was also unaffected. However, residents have reported smelling bleach and their eyes burning. Wildlife, pets, and schools of fish in the local rivers have all died as a result.
This news and commentary by Jack Hadfield originally appeared on Valiant News.