EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The window of time where potential chemicals from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment could have reached Evansville has come and gone, but still, Evansville Water and Sewer Utility is easing concerns for residents by taking additional steps and giving Eyewitness News a behind the scenes look at the frequent testing being conducted.
“We increase some of the sampling we do on the river, just making sure that we’re analyzing more frequently, since we knew that there could be a threat,” explains EWSU Water Quality Manager Brenna Caudill.
Since the Ohio derailment, the EWSU staff has conducted routine tests of the water intake system, which is pulled from two feet below the surface, as well as test samples from the surface, which are conducted when chemical spills occur. Samples from the river are brought into the EWSU lab and processed, where any chemical abnormalities will be immediately detected.
“It tells us a lot of information,” explains Caudill, “and that’s how we discern if something is very dangerous, or if it’s something that we just need to be looking out for.”
Like EWSU, Henderson Water Utility has performed frequent tests since the spill. General Manager Bart Boles has worked closely with Evansville officials during ongoing tests.
“Cannelton lock and dam, Newburgh lock and dam, they tested there,” says Boles. “Evansville’s tested, and they were all non-detects, so there was nothing in the water.”
Water was also deemed safe in Mount Vernon, where officials say frequent testing showed no trace of harmful chemicals. Owensboro Municipal Utilities released a statement informing residents their water comes from an underground aquifer, not the Ohio River, so there is also no fear of contamination. By showing the tests being conducted, Caudill hopes the public will be at ease when turning on the tap.
“We work for the public, we also drink the water that’s here,” says Caudill. “I really hope some of these interviews actually help people understand that we are very concerned professionals that are constantly analyzing to make sure that the water is safe.”