DOVER (WJER) (February 16, 2023) – East Palestine is about 60 miles northeast, but that isn’t far enough to ease Tuscarawas County residents’ fears over the train derailment and toxic chemical release there a week ago.
However, officials say it appears the county is safe.
Tuscarawas County Emergency Management Agency Director Alex McCarthy says he is not worried about the situation in East Palestine impacting us here.
“I’m not particularly concerned right now,” McCarthy said. “The derailment itself was rather close to some tributaries that lead directly to the Ohio River. At this point it does not look like any of those tributaries would directly affect us here in Tuscarawas County.”
McCarthy says an online post from a different county is incorrect.
The since-edited post from the city of Lorain suggested the Tuscarawas and Muskingum rivers were contaminated.
“I’m not exactly sure what was going on there, but there’s no impact to the Tuscarawas River or Muskingum River for that matter that we’re aware of,” McCarthy said. “I think that they just made a mistake.
“The EPA continues to monitor the Ohio River and some of the streams and tributaries in Columbiana County and along the state itself, but we have no reason to really be worried here in Tuscarawas County.”
McCarthy explained rivers here flow into the Ohio River, not the other way around.
“We’re a part of the Ohio River Watershed, but the water starts here in Tuscarawas County, works its way down to the Muskingum River, and then over to the Ohio River from there,” he said.
“We remain in contact with the health department as well as some of our other counties nearby to make sure everything is OK, but I don’t have any real concerns about our drinking water or our air quality for that matter.”
He says he understands everyone’s concerns.
“I mean, that plume was definitely intimidating, and I’m glad that we’re taking this seriously,” McCarthy said. “It was unfortunate that post came out a little bit earlier, but, again, that was made in error. There’s at this point no indication that the Tuscarawas River has been impacted, nor do I have any reason to think that it would be.”
Officials at the Tuscarawas County Health Department and city of Dover also have released statements on Facebook to try to ease residents’ concerns.
Health officials say there is no immediate threat to the county’s water supplies, but they are monitoring the situation.
Dover officials also did not foresee any impact to its underground water supply, but they are testing more frequently to make sure.