Cincinnati closes Ohio River water intake as safety precaution

Cincinnati closes Ohio River water intake as a safety precaution
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 11:27 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 3:03 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Greater Cincinnati Water Works shut off Ohio River water intake on Friday due to the anticipated arrival of the chemical plume traveling from East Palestine after a 50-car train derailed two weeks ago.

While the chemicals that were spilled from the derailment in East Palestine have not been detected in the Cincinnati area, the water department says they are working to ensure residents are safe.

“Our City Administration is prepared for these types of events,” City Manager Sheryl Long said. “I understand the concern, and I’m confident that temporarily shutting off the Ohio River intake is the best move.”

As a result of the Ohio River water intake being shut off, Greater Cincinnati Water Works says they will temporarily switch to water reserves.

The utility company says it will use its reserve supply for about six to 12 hours on Monday before opening the pumps again.

“There’s zero risk that our water reserves contain contaminants from the train derailment site, and tapping these reserves will give us all peace of mind,” Long explained. “I want to thank GCWW, who are truly the best of the best, and state that I have full faith in their decision-making and their ability to keep us safe.”

Greater Cincinnati Water Works Supervisor Jess Swertfeger said when they do turn the water back on, they will treat it.

“We’ve done some treatment studies here in the laboratory last weekend,” said Swertfeger. “We know what we need to do for treatment.”

Swertfeger explained Friday that the plume has dissipated and is no longer in the Ohio River. The area of once toxic chemicals is expected to pass through Cincinnati on Monday.

GCWW will continue monitoring the Ohio River to determine when it is safe to reactivate the intake. GCWW also plans to use additional optimized treatment once the intakes are reopened, even if no chemicals are detected.

“We are taking this preventative step to ensure the health, safety, and confidence of residents,” Mayor Aftab Pureval said. “Our entire community has East Palestine in our thoughts, and in coordination with the Ohio EPA and the Sanitation Commission, we will continue to support the best recovery possible.”

Greater Cincinnati Water Works has tested more than 130 water samples at the Ohio River water intake, and no detectable levels of the chemicals from the derailment site have been found.

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