Ohio EPA shows how they determine if water is safe to drink in East Palestine

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 4:46 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Even after officials say drinking water in East Palestine is safe, residents question whether or not it really is.

The Ohio EPA showed 19 News how they test the water, and why the public can trust them.

Amy Klei, the Ohio EPA chief of the division of drinking and ground waters, walked us through the process.

“We wanted everybody to understand what goes into these samples,” she said.

Transparency is the tone the Ohio EPA said they want to set here in East Palestine.

That’s why they are showing how the city’s water gets tested, and explaining whether or not it’s safe to drink.

“What we’re testing for today is above and beyond our normal compliance monitoring,” said Klei.

The Ohio EPA is looking in the water for volatile organic compounds from the train derailment.

“It’s not a simple open up a tab and grab a cup of water. There are a lot of quality control steps that go into ensuring the integrity of these samples,” said Klei.

The testing process is complicated, and takes several days until results are known.

“We’re showing you today the sampling part of that and what happens when the sample is collected. From here it gets sent in coolers to those laboratories,” she said.

Prior to the train derailment officials tested the water every six months.

Now it is being tested weekly.

“We have not seen the volatile organic compounds,” said Klei. How is it moving through soil, or getting in the ground. There’s groundwater monitoring wells going in other locations. Potential threats those private well owners too.”

The Ohio EPA said they will be testing the waters for the foreseeable future, and will continue to monitor the streams and other areas of water for chemicals.