YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Demand is currently high to test the waters in and around East Palestine. A lab in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, is testing for vinyl chloride.
Cardinal Environmental Labs has run nearly 10 years’ worth of samples over the past two weeks.
Humans and machines are working to answer a question on many minds: Is the water safe?
“We’re at about 200 [tests] Right now only from East Palestine,” said John Pflugh, owner of Cardinal Environmental Labs.
Pflugh is the only person at the lab certified by the Ohio EPA to run a volatile analysis. One chemical he is testing is vinyl chloride.
“It is toxic carcinogenic and the maximum contaminant level for drinking water is only 2ppb,” Pflugh said.
But this is not the only concern.
“Vinyl chloride and a lot of people have also requested benzene. There is a particular concern that has come up later in the case of oil that has escaped,” Pflugh said.
But private labs can only do so much. Drinking water testing for four of the other chemicals leaked from the train is not regulated.
The good news is that the dangerous chemicals they’re testing for haven’t shown up.
“Testing began, I think, the Monday after the incident. No, we haven’t reported any compounds that we’re looking for,” Pflugh said.
The vials to be tested are from throughout Columbiana County, which includes East Palestine and Negley, which is located south of East Palestine.
Laurie Marks lives in Negley Township, which has fewer than 300 people, and is three miles from the site of the derailment.
“We are also looking at all the help in the neighboring town, of course, Palestine, Darlington, Enon Valley. Here in Negley, we are kind of forgotten and forgotten, we are forgotten,” Marks said.
Marks says his doctor is treating him for chemical inhalation and has spent about $400 out of pocket to test his well water.
“We know that this open water goes directly into wells and into Bull Creek,” Marks said.
Kayla Miller is Marx’s neighbor in Bull Creek where Leslie investigates the run.
“My biggest takeaway is they tell you one thing that everything is safe, everything is fine, but we’re looking at another thing,” Miller said.
Miller has a farm where two chickens and three rabbits died 48 hours after the derailment. She will not allow her children to touch the drain this year. Miller said that she is not drinking water.
“I honestly don’t think I’m going to have a problem right now, but it’s a precaution, it’s going to take time for these chemicals to seep into my well. My well is 135 feet down,” Miller said.
Both Miller and Marks plan to test their waters months, maybe years later.
“If it migrates into the soil, it will continue to migrate into the soil. If it’s in the soil, will it reach the groundwater level? It’s entirely possible,” Pflugh said.
Pflugh says there is no timetable for longer-term testing.
“At the very least, we want to establish a baseline and do a clean test now down the road so if any of this gets into the soil and migrates off site, we have this clean baseline sample back.” is meant to fall, Pflugh said.
Cardinal Labs is charging $100 for the test, which is less than its normal price.
They want to provide some piece of mind if they can.
This article was written by Tara Morgan for Scripps News Cleveland.