Springfield water, air not affected by East Palestine train crash and release of toxins, experts say

City and public health officials have seen no indication Springfield’s water supply or air quality are affected by the release of toxic chemicals after a fiery train crash earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio.

Springfield has no indication that local water or air quality “has been compromised,” according to a city spokesperson.

The city’s water treatment plant supplies raw water from 12 wells located along the Mad River. The Mad River Buried Valley Aquifer is the source of water for the city’s wellfield, according to Springfield water quality reports.

The wells draw water from the unconfined sand and gravel aquifer, according to the city.

The water treatment facility is staffed 24/7 by staff that is trained by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Officials with the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency — which monitors air quality in Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties — say they are not aware of any air quality threats from the derailment and are not advising local residents to take specific actions related to air pollution because of it.

RAPCA officials analyzed wind direction and velocity since the Feb. 3 incident on the eastern edge of Ohio and say the wind has been blowing to the east, northeast or southeast, not toward Dayton.

Likewise, Mike Ekberg, manager of water resources monitoring and analysis at the Miami Conservancy District, said the East Palestine incident will not affect the Great Miami River watershed. Clark County is within this watershed.

The Clark County Combined Health District advises that those who may be traveling to the East Palestine area should check with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Columbiana County Health Department for the most up-to-date information regarding safety.

“The Columbiana County Health Department… issued an ‘all clear’ notice for residents to return to their homes late last week. The Columbiana County Health Department continues to sample private/public water systems in the area to ensure the safety of the drinking water in the area,” Clark County health commissioner Charles Patterson said in an email.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Friday in East Palestine, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board. Vinyl chloride was slowly released into the air last week from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.

Concerns are growing about the potential environmental impact of the crash. Some of this is fueled by misinformation on social media, though state and federal environmental agencies are monitoring the situation for potential impacts.

U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio issued a statement Monday assuring people that air and drinking water tests by state and federal agencies, the Ohio National Guard and Norfolk Southern have been “encouraging.”

“We continue to monitor environmental reports from multiple agencies about the quality of the air and water in the region. I have heard alarming anecdotes about contaminated waterways and effects on wildlife. I encourage anyone with credible reports of environmental harms to contact my office. In the meantime, we will continue to engage with the relevant agencies and monitor the situation in the region,” said the Ohio Republican.

Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Monday that state and federal environmental protection agencies must do full safety testing and Norfolk Southern “should be held accountable and pay for cleanup and continued monitoring.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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