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East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment


On Feb. 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Several rail cars ruptured, spilling vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate chemicals. Both chemicals are used in industrial processes, primarily in manufacturing plastics and resins.

Hazardous materials teams from Ohio and the U.S. EPA responded quickly and took measures to contain contamination from these compounds. However, low levels of butyl acrylate have been detected in samples of the Ohio River downstream of the incident, but currently far upstream of Indiana water supply intakes along the Ohio River.

Your Water

Hoosiers’ drinking water is safe!

After the incident, monitoring teams increased testing at multiple points in the Ohio River between where the spill occurred and near Indiana water intakes. Testing is being done not only by the U.S. EPA and The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), but also by the respective Indiana water utilities that serve our communities.

There are no immediate impacts on public drinking water sources for Indiana residents. Even far upstream from any Indiana water intakes, there are no detectable amounts of butyl acrylate or any other chemical that could be attributed to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Nature has also helped our efforts, thanks to significant rainfall during the week of Feb 12. This has led to an increase in water flow of the Ohio River, helping dilute any spill remnants. No detectable chemical levels have been found in over 300 miles upriver of Indiana water intakes. We expect the same results to continue for sampling sites for Indiana.

IDEM and local water utilities, Evansville Water & Mount Vernon Water Works, remain vigilant. Should hazardous chemicals be detected near Indiana water supply intakes, local drinking water utilities may close their intakes to allow the chemical to pass. Precautionary treatment strategies may also be used to help remove these chemicals through the water treatment process.

Hoosiers along the Ohio River should be aware of and refer to future information and guidance from their water utility.

IDEM's Role

IDEM’s Office of Water Quality is in close contact with the sampling authorities to track the chemical and to ensure the safety of Indiana drinking water.

Additional rounds of sampling have been requested as an extra precaution.

The U.S. EPA, ORSANCO, and other water utilities along the Ohio River are collecting samples to assess any potential threats to drinking water.

Indiana’s remaining Ohio River drinking water intakes include:

  • Henderson, KY at Ohio River Mile 803.5;
  • Mt. Vernon, IN at Ohio River Mile 829.3;
  • Morganfield, KY at Ohio River Mile 842.5;
  • Sturgis, KY at Ohio River Mile 871.4;
  • Paducah, KY at Ohio River Mile 935.5;
  • Cairo, IL at Ohio River Mile 978

More Resources

Most recent sampling results from ORSANCO are publicly available at the following link:

The Evansville Water Sewer Utility is also providing regular updates of their response and testing efforts:

The U.S. EPA is providing regular updates on the East Palestine train derailment, available here:

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