East Palestine Water Quality – Full Report
Author: Justin C. Johnston, MS, MBA
As discussed in previous posts on the topic, Big Pine Consultants LLC completed water quality sampling of nine stream sites “downstream” and “downwind” of the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio on February 17, 2023. We received our laboratory analytical results on March 3, 2023. We have drafted a report of the findings and provide that as an attachment in this blog post.
Some key takeaways from these results are:
- Fish kills and other impacts downstream of the derailment in Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, and Bull Creek appear to be from an oil range organic, ORO(C28-C40), which is also what is likely causing the sheen on the water surface. Dilution appears to have reduced the concentration of this compound to below minimum detectable levels in downstream locations.
- Downwind, there are low but detectable levels of several probable carcinogens in the surface water that are mainly formed by incomplete combustion of organic compounds. Four such probable carcinogens were present above “Report Limits” in at least one sample including Benzo(b)fluoranthene, Benzo(k)fluoranthene, Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, and Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene. Two additional probable carcinogens were present above the minimum detectable limit, but lower than the Report Limit including Benzo(a)pyrene and Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate. Benzo(b)fluoranthene was the most prominent as it was above the Report Limit in four samples.
- Per NIOSH, there is no safe level of exposure to carcinogens. Their presence is a danger to long term health.
- OEPA is not finding these because their minimum detect levels shown in their sampling reports are higher than we detected. In short, their methods are not sensitive enough to find these compounds.
- We cannot directly confirm or deny with certainty that these are from the controlled burn, however the results do support that they are from the controlled burn.
- The carcinogens were detected as far away as South Branch Brady Run, at Brady’s Run Park. They may have travelled further, but were not detected in Raccoon Creek.
- If you have pets or livestock that drink from streams in this area, these carcinogens, even in low concentrations, could be a concern for long term health of your animals.
- State and federal agencies testing surface and groundwater should evaluate their sampling and analytical methods to make sure they are using the appropriate sensitivity to find these compounds.
Here is the link to the East Palestine Water Quality Sampling Report.
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