Train Derailment Poses Risk To Water Supply - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Train Derailment Poses Risk To Water Supply

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 What started as a routine cleanup of a train derailment in Denison, turned into much more as area residents noticed something wasn't right with water draining from the derailment site.
"We came out to take care of our animals... And noticed that we had groundwater with dead crawdads in it"
     Initially, Reports from Union Pacific railroad were that the rail cars that overturned were carrying grain and non toxic materials and posed no threat to the public, but when residents noticed dead aquatic life, they took action, and called the environmental protection agency.
"Anytime that you have water running that's killing crawfish in the water... That tells you that there's something wrong with the water."
     After those residents calls, the Environmental Protection Agency dispatched a team from Dallas to investigate. Upon arrival it was discovered the rail cars that had overturned were carrying soda ash, a product that the EPA says is not toxic when in a dry powder state. 
     But when the chemical comes in contact with water, becomes highly corrosive.
"You can still see the residual soda ash out of the cars... And when the rainwater hit that, that gave us the high ph levels.."
     Normal drinking water carries a ph level of around 6 or 7. The EPA says the water that was discovered in drainage ditches carried a ph of thirteen. Meaning the water was highly toxic. And those waters leaked into both Shawnee creek and drainage ditches which feed Randell Lake, a major source of drinking water in Denison
"In this direction it went off into Shawnee creek... And in this direction, it went off into the ditch on highland drive"
"And in an effort to contain all of this acid and water that's coming down the creek. The EPA has built several burms around the area and they expect the water to collect there, and they scoop it out into big trucks that haul it away."
"We are catching everything at the end, and by the end, I mean we're flushing it, we're catching it at the end, pumping it out, and it's being shipped out."
     The city of Denison and EPA will be monitoring the water ways in the days to come, but say they feel confident that the material was diluted enough that it poses no problem to the drinking water for the city of Denison.     
     But area residents are left frustrated that something wasn't done sooner.
"My neighbor has horses and cows... People down the street have horses and cows... A lot of the wildlife around here... I just don't want to see anybody especially since nothing was said...  No warning of any kind, that"