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East Palestine families want reassurance well water is safe to drink after train derailment

Families using bottled water for now
Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 07, 2023

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Some families in East Palestine say they’re not confident in drinking water from their private wells. They want their water tested even long after the cleanup of the train derailment is done.

Linda Murphy lives roughly three miles from ground zero and just up the hill from Leslie Run Creek.

“There were several dead fish floating along multiple locations on Leslie Run,” Murphy said.

The Murphys have well water but right now, they’re not touching it.

“That’s what we bathe in, that's what we drink, that's what we cook with and that’s what I also give to my animals, so it’s a major concern and they could not reassure me the water was safe to drink. They didn’t say it wasn’t and absolutely refrained from saying that it was,” Murphy said.

Murphy got one of her horses out of town but their horse named Burt refused to step onto a trailer.

One of the Murphys' horses refused to get on a trailer to evacuate the area.

“Obviously it might not be instantaneous where there’s a result this could be long term for years and years,” Murphy said.

Their neighbors, Joe and Amanda White, worry about their well water too. They just returned home after a night away with a case of bottled water to share with their Golden Retriever, Murphy.

“Our well is 300 feet down. If it could have got into our wells and our drinking water, or how long if it’s not in there now? Is it going to be in there in a week? Everything’s going to seep through the ground — it has to go somewhere,” the Whites said.

The Ohio EPA told News 5 that they have not seen anything at this point to suggest private wells would be impacted.

Groundwater protection plans will be considered as part of long-term remediation. As far as water in streams, the Ohio EPA says environmental contractors are taking water quality samples daily with results expected in the coming days. They’ve also put up earthen dams in a stream close to the derailment to capture contaminants.

"I want my water tested every week — at least every week — for the next few months until we get a nice recorded record of several tests that says it's free and clear of anything,” Joe White said.

Linda Murphy wants long-term water testing too for her safety and peace of mind.

“I would like someone to reach out and reassure us that yeah, it’s safe but do I wholeheartedly believe that? No. But ongoing testing down the road, not only today but in the future, and a relationship moving forward where we can be confident,” Murphy said.

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