Shapiro Administration Announces Independent Water Sampling in Wake of Train Derailment

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PENNSYLVANIA — In light of the train derailment that took place in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3, 2023, Governor Josh Shapiro has announced yesterday that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be conducting independent water sampling. This move is meant to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ drinking water and to provide peace of mind during this uncertain time. In addition, DEP is assisting public water suppliers in evaluating their source water. “My Administration is taking steps to independently verify the safety of Pennsylvanians’ water — and will continue to do so in the months to come,” said Governor Shapiro.

“Keeping Pennsylvanians safe is our top priority,” said Rich Negrin, Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “Leading our own independent testing now will give us a necessary baseline so that we can track any changes to Pennsylvanians’ water in the months ahead. We will continue to do our part to test the water to determine the impacts of this train derailment, and keep Pennsylvanians informed and safe.”

DEP will be taking independent samples from Norfolk Southern sampling sites for examination by the DEP Bureau of Laboratories. DEP will also be taking independent water samples in Pennsylvania within a 2-mile radius of the derailment site. Samples will be taken monthly to watch for any long-term impacts.

DEP’s Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields has performed a basic evaluation of the groundwater flow and geology near the derailment site and believes that there is not likely to be any contamination of water wells in Pennsylvania. Residents with concerns about private well water should contact the DEP Southwest Regional Office at 412-442-4000 for more information about well testing.

A Beaver Falls Municipal Authority water treatment plant is located 11 miles from the train derailment site. The closest Community Public Water Supply is PA American Ellwood City, which is 10.5 miles from the site. DEP is also investigating a small public water supply that is located along the Little Beaver River that utilizes spring sources.

Pennsylvania continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following this incident. Based on the air monitoring results at the time of the incident at the site as well as the perimeter air monitoring, DEP has not observed any contaminants of concern leaving a 2-mile area around the derailment site and entering into Pennsylvania. DEP is coordinating with Ohio EPA, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), Federal EPA, and Norfolk Southern’s contractor, CTEH, to review sample information for surface waters.

Earlier this week Governor Josh Shapiro issued a letter to Norfolk Southern raising questions about the emergency response that was undertaken in the immediate aftermath of the derailment and vowing to hold the company accountable. The Shapiro Administration has also highlighted further information about air and water quality, which can be found here.

Visit here for more information about DEP’s sampling efforts and other details about the derailment. For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, visit its website.

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