Residents of East Palestine, Ohio were promised by the state Environmental Protection Agency and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine that their municipal water has not been contaminated by the train derailment that occurred in the town earlier this month. However, the only publicly available data comes from testing conducted by a Dallas-based consulting firm, AECOM, which was funded by the company behind the crash, Norfolk Southern.

Yes, Norfolk Southern outsourced the testing and no one in the DeWine administration seemed to mind, if they even noticed.  It has also been reported that Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw is a Mike DeWine donor. (Editor’s Note: Lancaster Courier has not independently verified)

On Wednesday, Gov. DeWine declared that the tests “showed no evidence of contamination,” however, aquatic ecologist Sam Bickley of the Virginia Scientist-Community Interface pointed out that the lab report included several testing errors that should have disqualified the results. Bickley expressed his concern that the drinking water may not be safe, saying, “Their results that claim there were no contaminants is not a reliable finding.”

The testing was done on February 10, seven days after the train derailed and authorities began a controlled release of the toxic chemical vinyl chloride, which can produce hydrogen chloride and phosgene, both of which can cause irritation and breathing difficulties.

One entity did not rely on a company’s outsourced results working behind the scenes to gather actual evidence.

The Biden administration said in a press call Friday that Norfolk Southern has not been solely behind the testing that’s been conducted so far, with a spokesperson telling reporters, “It’s been with the Columbiana County Health Department, collecting samples along with Norfolk Southern and sending those as split samples to two different labs for verification.”

The state EPA did not receive the health department’s results until after DeWine declared the water safe based on AECOM’s flawed and sloppy testing.

Reuters reported Friday that many East Palestine have no trust in what state and local authorities say, and have been purchasing large quantities of bottled water as they determine whether it’s safe to stay in the town.

“We’re not getting any truth,” said resident Ted Murphy, who is now planning to leave the town out of safety concerns just seven months after moving to his home in East Palestine. “They’re not going to own up to what’s going [into the water] until they are forced to.”

The U.S. EPA hasn’t done any sampling of the municipal water as of this writing. On Thursday, Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro ordered independent testing of water in local communities.

East Palestine is just over the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.