EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – There are still mounting concerns over air and well water quality in East Palestine. Farmers in the area are left with questions about their well water and soil quality.
“The night they blew up the train there was a haze in my barn and you could smell it pretty strong,” said Gordon Stewart.
Gordon Stewart owns a beef cattle farm in Unity Township, about five miles away from the derailment zone. He has private well water and isn’t getting it tested just yet. His 16 steer are healthy and he’s considering water testing for the future.
But with planting season less than two months away, he’s worried about the soil.
“I don’t want to be raising crops which have a contamination effect in them,” said Stewart.
Stewart raises hay, corn, oats beans and wheat.
“I would like to see some testing of the soil. That’s where my livelihood is, in the soil,” said Stewart.
And he doesn’t want to sell potentially contaminated crops.
The US EPA confirmed they will be doing soil testing but have not released details about the timeline or process. Norfolk Southern is still waiting on test results from private wells in the zone.
Haley Shoemaker with the Ohio State University Extension in Columbiana County says they’re still working with officials gathering data about well water and soil safety.
These are all things we’re working to get more data and information on and have better recommendations as we move into the warmer months and in the spring.
In addition to environmental concerns, farmers are also worried about the future of their livelihoods.
Jacqueline Schmeltz runs Friendly Fibers Farm just outside of East Palestine. She raises sheep and poultry and says people have avoided picking up their live poultry purchases.