Local and state authorities previously evacuated all residents within one mile of the February 3 derailment and started a controlled burn of industrial chemicals on the Norfolk Southern train to decrease the risk of an explosion, which could have sent shrapnel throughout the small town. Vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic compound, was emitted from five train cars in the form of massive plumes of dark smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Giant Eagle, which is based in Pittsburgh and has stores throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Maryland, said that the company sources water for large containers from a factory in Salineville, Ohio, about 25 miles southwest of the train derailment.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the company said in a statement provided to WKBN, “Giant Eagle has made the decision to remove all gallon-size-or-greater Giant Eagle brand spring water product sourced from the Salineville facility from our store shelves until further notice while we continue to evaluate ongoing testing and potential impacts to the spring source.”
The announcement comes after utilities in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky shuttered Ohio River water intake valves early Sunday morning over concerns about contamination from materials in the train crash. Beyond the release of vinyl chloride, Norfolk Southern warned the EPA that a number of other volatile chemicals, including ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and ethylhexyl acrylate, were present at the derailment site. The EPA published the full list of substances present at the site only after residents were told they could return to their homes.
Regular tests of the Salineville spring by a third party laboratory have not found evidence that the source was contaminated by the incident. “Giant Eagle has been in daily contact with representatives from the facility and has learned that the water used in these products comes from a protected spring located at a higher elevation than East Palestine and is not near ground water sources directly impacted by the incident,” the statement continued.
One spokesperson for the company told WOIO that customers can receive compensation for gallon-size or larger containers with a best-by date after February 3, 2025. “We understand that some guests may prefer to return previously purchased gallon-size Giant Eagle spring water,” the spokesperson added. “Interested guests are invited to bring in either the product itself or a qualifying receipt to their local Giant Eagle, Market District or GetGo location to receive a refund on the purchased product.”
State and federal officials have said extensive air and water quality tests have not yet raised evidence of contamination. A team of Daily Wire journalists and producers who visited East Palestine last week nevertheless reported a lingering smell in the air, an oily chemical sheen in local creeks and rivers, and symptoms such as sore throats and headaches garnered merely by spending an extended period of time in the small community. Residents and first responders have meanwhile shared worries about health symptoms such as coughing, diarrhea, and nausea, as well as deaths among wildlife and livestock.
The EPA ordered Norfolk Southern last week to manage the cleanup of the toxic chemical spill. The agency also threatened to “immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost” if the company fails to adequately complete enumerated cleanup actions.