Paducah Water Monitors Train Derailment Closely

Date of Release: 
February 15, 2023

Below is a release issued by Paducah Water:

Brief Summary:

  • PW is monitoring this situation closely
  • The leading edge of detectable levels of butyl acrylate is more than 700 miles from Paducah
  • PW’s treatment process is well suited to remove the chemicals involved
  • We expect no impact to PW’s customers
  • PW’s water is safe

The fundamental mission of Paducah Water is to supply high-quality drinking water to our customers.  Like other utilities that use the Ohio River as the source of their drinking water, we have been closely monitoring the situation created by the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.

PW is a proud member of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), which is leading the water-related emergency response effort throughout the entire Ohio River Valley.  In addition, Paducah Water prides itself on our working relationship with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, as well as many water utilities across Kentucky.  During an incident like this one, these ties are more valuable than ever.  Currently, ORSANCO is conducting enhanced testing along the river and providing daily updates on the situation.  

At this time, ORSANCO is reporting that river testing is finding levels for the chemical - butyl acrylate - are well below levels that would raise health concerns.  As of Monday February 13, 2023 the leading edge of detectable levels of butyl acrylate was around mile marker 200 of the Ohio River.  PW’s intakes are located at mile marker 935.  That means that any detectable levels of the primary contaminant from the train derailment is over 700 miles from Paducah.  As this plume moves downstream, it is being diluted and is not expected to impact Paducah Water.

Although the chemical remains hundreds of miles upstream, Paducah Water’s Water Quality staff will be conducting additional source water testing.  There is no reason for PW customers to take action relating to this situation.

The train that derailed was also carrying another chemical – vinyl chloride.  We understand that the majority of vinyl chloride was contained at the crash site, and down river samples for vinyl chloride have been below detection limits and is not of concern for down-river communities.

It is important to note that Paducah Water’s treatment process is well suited to remove both chemicals involved, even if levels were to increase in the coming weeks.   

If there is a significant change in the situation, we will provide an additional update.