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'It's really messed up:' Giant Eagle shoppers react to spring water being pulled from shelves

Geology experts weigh in on the potential toxicity of the water
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Posted at 5:14 PM, Feb 22, 2023

CLEVELAND — Giant Eagle is pulling its spring water off store shelves out of an abundance of caution from the East Palestine train derailment. The spring water is sourced from a facility near East Palestine, but the company said its water shows no signs of contamination.

Shelves of bottled water inside area Giant Eagles are empty.

“Certainly, it’s concerning, you think we should be doing more,” said John Lutz, a Giant Eagle shopper.

Shoppers are worried.

“They're saying it's ok when it's not, when even Giant Eagle is proving that it’s not by taking the spring water off the shelves, so it’s really messed up,” added Nakita Webb, a Giant Eagle shopper.

The grocery chain said its spring water comes from a facility in Salineville, Ohio, which is 25 miles southwest of East Palestine. It's pulling the gallon and larger bottles, but also said the water source is protected, safe, and shows no signs of impact from the Feb. 3 train derailment.

“One of the reasons we collect water from springs is because the long path through the ground often will have cleaned it up," said Professor of Geology at Case Western Reserve University, Peter Whiting. "It will have gone through gravel and sands and other dirt would have been screened out and other contaminants."

Whiting said the chemical, vinyl chloride, which the train car was carrying when it derailed, breaks down quickly.

"What Giant Eagle has done strikes me as protecting their reputation,” said Whiting. “I have no reason to believe there is anything in that spring water. At the distance, I anticipate they are there is little likelihood that any contamination reaches them or would reach them.”

By now, over two weeks later, with active testing happening by the EPA, concerns in East Palestine and surrounding areas should be limited.

“Those contaminants are in very, very low concentrations as you move away from the actual site, but I am not going to walk up to a puddle at the derailment and get my straw out and sip, no,” Whiting added. “There is still worry there, but as you get further away, I am a mile two miles away I am not worried any longer about this spill.”

East Palestine farmers are especially concerned with rainy weather.

“I don’t want to be an alarmist, I am only 3.75 miles away from the epicenter, and I’m concerned what the toxicity could be for my soil,” said Jan Douglas, East Palestine Farmer.

Whiting continues to press that the solution to pollution is dilution, which he said is naturally occurring in East Palestine.

“As the wind blows, and carries the material some distance,” said Whiting. “It’s mixing with other air so that initial concentration is reduced simply by dilution and that’s what would be falling onto the surface.”

Governor DeWine himself drank Palestine tap water yesterday, attempting to reassure residents of its safety.

“They need to put their money where their mouth is," said Lutz. "So, if they’re saying it’s ok. I think they should be the first ones up,”

But DeWine’s stunt isn’t even enough reassurance for some Cleveland Giant Eagle shoppers miles away from East Palestine.

“I don’t think he’s telling anyone the truth," said Webb. "He’s really risking everyone's health for like nothing, nothing.

CLICK HERE to read more of News 5's extensive coverage of the East Palestine train derailment.

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