Region responds to potential water contamination


PORTSMOUTH – The Portsmouth Water Filtration Plant has responded to water quality concerns resulting from East Palestine train derailment and subsequent chemical spillage into the Ohio River.

“We are in regular communication with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), who is conducting ongoing tests to monitor for any potential hazards relating to the incident,” they posted on their Facebook Page Thursday morning. “It’s worth noting that the only chemical that has been detected in the river is Butyl Acrylate, and that was far upstream and not near our intake location.”

“Recent data shows that all chemicals being tested for are coming back below detectable levels. ORSANCO’s current assessment indicates that the leading edge of the plume is not expected to reach out plant’s river intake until this Sunday. We will continued to closely monitor the situation and work collaboratively with ORSANCO to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.”

On February 3rd, 50 train cars derailed in a wreck in East Palestine, Ohio. Vinyl chloride, a gas contained in at least five of the cars, was released and burned to prevent an explosion causing toxic fumes to be released into the area. Vinyl chloride is a gas used to make plastic resins in products such as PVC pipe, auto parts, and more. Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, increasing the risk of liver, brain and lung cancers.

Other train cars were carrying chemicals such as butyl acrylate, ethyhexyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and isobutylene, according to the EPA. On Thursday, US Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine urging him to label the derailment as a disaster and to seek federal help in cleanup efforts.

The Portsmouth Water Filtration Plant supplies the majority of Scioto County with water from the Ohio River. However, another 40,000 customers get obtain their water from the Scioto County Regional Water District Number One, otherwise known as Water 1, which is supplied by the Teays Valley Aquifer.

“(We are) supplied from an underground aquifer…Rest assured the train derailment that is on the news will not have an impact on the quality of the district’s water,” said Water 1 in a statement.

Upriver, the City of Ironton also assures its customers that is is ready to handle any hazards resulting from the spillage. They will also cease production during the time the contaminants are assumed to pass through the area.

“The current process of the City of Ironton’s water filtration plant is designed to adequately remove any and all contaminants that may be present from the recent chemical spill into the Ohio River resulting from the early February train derailment in East Palestine,” said Ironton Mayor Sam Cramblit in a statement. “As an additional precaution, the water plant will cease production during the anticipated time frame that the contaminants from the spill will pass through our area.”

West Virginia American Water, which services the Huntington area, has responded by creating an alternative intake on the Guyandotte River until safety concerns have passed.

“The alternate intake on the Guyandotte River is now fully operational and currently supplying all the water to its Huntington Water Treatment Plant,” the company said in a statement. “This precautionary measure follows the chemical release impacting the Ohio River…Our Huntington area customers can rest assured that we continue to supply them with safe drinking water, and we completed this effort with their health and safety at the forefront of our decision making.”

Down river, the Greater Cincinnati Water Works says the chemicals will have no impact on its customers. Officials have said that the amount of butyl acrylate upstream is not known to cause negative health effects. If levels rise during testing, they said that water intakes from the Ohio River would be shut down for several days.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) has promised to shore up sampling efforts as they receive additional information from Norfolk Southern and the Ohio EPA. They have also established a dedicated phone line, 215-814-2400, and a web page for residents to stay up to date with monitoring results:

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