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

There is no indication Dayton’s water supply or air quality are affected by the release of toxic chemicals following a fiery train crash earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio, according to local water utility and public health officials.

The city of Dayton pumps the water distributed to most of Montgomery County and parts of Greene County. That water comes from underground aquifers influenced by the Mad River and Great Miami River. The watersheds for those rivers were not impacted by the crash, which occurred on the eastern border of Ohio near Pennsylvania, said Dayton Division Manager of Water Supply and Treatment Keshia Kinney.

“We are not impacted by what is going in eastern Ohio,” Kinney said. “Our watershed is not impacted by that.”

She added that the city does have “extensive monitoring” to make sure toxins don’t enter the water supply and “at this point we are not concerned.”

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.

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.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County spokesman Dan Suffoletto said officials advise anyone considering traveling to the East Palestine/East Liverpool area to check the latest update from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before going.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Feb. 3 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. J.D. 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.