Ohio officials post video drinking East Palestine water in effort to reassure residents

The EPA has found no evidence of volatile organic compounds in the village’s water after multiple independent tests

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 21 February 2023 18:52 GMT

Related video: Ohio toxic train: Residents frustrated despite assurances

State and local officials in East Palestine, Ohio, filmed a video of themselves drinking the village's water in an effort to assure residents it was safe following a catastrophic train derailment earlier this month.

Residents have expressed concerns that their water was polluted after Norfolk Southern vented and burned vinyl chloride gas that was being hauled by the train.

The water-drinking video was posted as part of a visit to the village by Ohio's Lieutenant Governor John Husted. He posted the clip to his Twitter feed.

Mr Husted, along with Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel, Fire Chief Keith Drabick, police chief James Brown, Mayor Trent Conaway, and local Congressman Bill Johnson, filled their cups from a faucet and drank the water.

"The water is safe and they are working around the clock to keep it that way," Mr Husted wrote alongside the video.

On Tuesday, Ms Vogel confirmed that samples from East Palestine water sources had been sent to multiple labs for testing, and all found no evidence of volatile organic compounds in the village's water.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said during a Monday press conference that village residents who get their water from private wells should continue to drink bottled water until they've had their water tested.

The EPA also announced on Tuesday that it was taking over the clean-up operation in East Palestine, and that it has placed a binding order on Norfolk Southern to force the company to continue its efforts to rectify the damage caused by the accident.

Under the EPA's direction, Norfolk Southern will be forced to stay in East Palestine and conduct clean-up operations under penalty of fine.

Prior to the order Norfolk Southern was voluntarily cleaning up the accident site.

Both Mr DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro have committed to keeping state resources in the region, and to ensuring that Norfolk Southern foots the bill for the work that needs done to ensure the village is safe for residents.

In the meantime, the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the accident.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned that fines and additional regulatory and punitive measures were likely in the wake of the accident.

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