Kentucky Water District Closes Ohio River Intake After East Palestine Train Derailment

Kentucky Water District Closes Ohio River Intake After East Palestine Train Derailment
Ron Fodo, Ohio EPA Emergency Response, looks for signs of fish and also agitates the water in Leslie Run creek to check for chemicals that have settled at the bottom following the train derailment prompting health concerns in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 20, 2023. (Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

The Northern Kentucky Water District shut down Ohio River intake on Sunday in anticipation of a plume of chemicals from the East Palestine train crash flowing down the river, coming after the City of Cincinnati made a similar decision last week.

The head of the Northern Kentucky Water District (NKWD) confirmed over the weekend that it is officially closing own the intakes as a precautionary measure. “Maintaining the safety of our community’s drinking water is our highest priority,” Lindsey Rechtin, the CEO, told local media outlets.

NKWD serves about 300,000 in Kenton and Campbell counties, as well as several other Kentucky areas. The organization said it will use reserves until the Ohio River intakes are reopened.

“The response to this Ohio River spill event thus far has been extraordinary. I cannot express enough gratitude to all NKWD staff for their efforts to ensure that our community’s drinking water supply remains safe and reliable,” Rechtin also said. “Moreover, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and Thomas More University have been an incredible partner throughout this event. As a community member, I am grateful to know that the health of my family is safe because of their efforts.”

About a day before that, Cincinnati’s Greater Cincinnati Water Works confirmed it too would shut down intake from the river. Last week, an Ohio environmental official confirmed in a news conference a plume of chemicals was observed traveling down the Ohio River.

“Out of an abundance of caution, GCWW will shut off the Ohio River intake ahead of the anticipated arrival of the last detectable chemical concentration in the river,” the city said, adding that it will switch to its water reserves.

The agency said that it performed 133 tests of Ohio River water and found it was negative for butyl acrylate, vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, and ethyl hexyl acrylate. Those chemicals, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said were being carried on the derailed train, are used in industrial production for a range of inks, dyes, paints, adhesives, enamels, and plastics.

“Our City Administration is prepared for these types of events. I understand the concern, and I’m confident that temporarily shutting off the Ohio River intake is the best move,” City Manager Sheryl Long said on Feb. 17. “There’s zero risk that our water reserves contain contaminants from the train derailment site, and tapping these reserves will give us all peace of mind. I want to thank GCWW, who are truly the best of the best, and state that I have full faith in their decision-making and their ability to keep us safe.”

That same day, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told a press conference that test results show municipal water in East Palestine is fine to drink. That came in the midst of locals in the village complaining of various maladies, including rashes and other health effects, after the derailment.

Ohio toxic spill
An environmental company is removing dead fish downstream from the site of the train derailment that forced people to be evacuated from their homes in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 6, 2023. (Alan Freed/Reuters)

Last week, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) posted a video of him dragging a stick through the Leslie Run creekbed, which is located near the crash site and connects to Sulfur Run, that revealed oily, rainbow-colored substances. Similar videos posted by a Fox affiliate reporter and an East Palestine woman showed them throwing rocks into an East Palestine waterway, triggering a similar reaction.

Over the weekend, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw returned to East Palestine and pledged to clean up the village. The company, which operated the derailed train, is now facing at least a half-dozen lawsuits.

“This has been devastating to this community,” Shaw said, according to local media outlets. “I want to make sure you understand, I am terribly sorry that this happened to the community. Norfolk Southern is fully committed to doing what’s right for this community.”

A local reporter with WKBN-2 pressed Shaw on a plan to give $1,000 per person to people who live in the Beaver County evacuation zone and with a 44413 zip code.

“Are you making them sign documents to tell people they won’t sue further if they can’t ask for more money?” the reporter asked. “No. Not at all. All they have to do is sign their name and say they’ve received a thousand dollars,” Shaw said.

From The Epoch Times

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