HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia water utility is enhancing its water treatment process as a precaution following the derailment of a train hauling chemicals that later sent up a toxic plume in Ohio.
West Virginia American Water said Sunday that it’s also going to install a secondary intake on the Guyandotte River in case there’s a need to switch to an alternate water source. The utility noted that there hasn’t been any change in raw water at its Ohio River intake.
“The health and safety of our customers is a priority, and there are currently no drinking water advisories in place for customers," the company said in a statement.
About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. Vinyl chloride was later released into the air from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.
Residents from nearby neighborhoods in Ohio and Pennsylvania were evacuated because of health risks from the fumes, but have since been allowed to return.
Residents who filed a federal lawsuit are seeking to force Norfolk Southern to set up health monitoring for residents in both states.
The lawsuit filed Thursday by two Pennsylvania residents calls for the rail operator to pay for medical screenings and related care for anyone living within a 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius of the derailment to determine who was affected by toxic substances released after the derailment. The lawsuit also is seeking undetermined damages.