DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — 2 NEWS is continuing to follow the impact of the train derailment in East Palestine.
In a press conference held Friday, Governor Mike DeWine said the EPA testing at the five wells that lead into East Palestine’s municipal water supply have all come back clean. Residents who use private well are still encouraged to use bottled water until their water safety can be confirmed.
38 private wells have been sampled so far and more are scheduled to be tested. The state is still waiting for the results on those collections.
Ben Frech, the Public Relations Manager for the National Ground Water Association, joined Five on 2 to discuss the response of how local, state and federal leaders have done responding to the crisis.
“I think in general, they’ve done a pretty good job. You know, they’re in a tough position where, I think, they want to be transparent, they want to give accurate information, but that information and that data can take time to get, and within that time, you leave people with a lot of unanswered questions,” Frech said.
“I think they’re doing a good job with trying to keep people updated, keep people informed and being transparent, which is really critical in a time like this, and I think that our leaders have learned that over the years, that transparency is a must, constant communication is a must.”
Frech added that people with private wells are going to be the most susceptible to a chemical spill like the one in East Palestine.
“Their well may not be properly maintained, it may not be equipped with the most up-to-date technology for remediation of various contaminants,” Frech said. “If you do have a private well, you’re always going to want to get your water tested, and this is a great example of why.”
However, Frech said that groundwater contamination can also affect people who use the municipal system. He said there is a psychological impact of not knowing if your drinking water is going to make you sick or not.
Frech advises anyone with a contaminated private well to discuss the issue with their local health department and a qualified water well professional.
“A lot of the time, there is going to be a remediation technology called ‘point of use’ or ‘point of entry’ technology that they can install in their private system that will treat the contamination, depending on how bad that contamination is,” Frech said.
“Typically, there’s going to be a treatment option. If not, you may have to get connected to a public system, drill a new well or continue to use bottled water until one of those things happen.”
Frech emphasized the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency and state and federal agencies to stay active within the Village of East Palestine.
“The only way they’re really going to build trust is if they continue to test, they continue to share those results,” Frech said. “I think that could take a long time, so I think they’re going to have to make a pretty big investment in staying in that community.”
Frech said that state and local governments need to be more proactive with private well owners by informing them of remediation technology and encouraging testing of water inside and outside of critical events like the East Palestine train derailment.
“The National Ground Water Association would like to express heartfelt condolences to those impacted by the chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio. As an Ohio-based organization that supports groundwater quality and private well owners, the event has been particularly troubling to see unfold,” the National Ground Water Association said in a statement.
“Water wells, like public water systems, can be treated for a variety of contaminants when properly maintained and equipped with the correct remediation technology. In the coming weeks and months, we will be strongly encouraging corporate, federal, and state actors to continue water monitoring around the spill and provide appropriate remediation technology to any water well user who may need it.”
More information about the National Ground Water Association can be found on the organization’s website.