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Emergency Officials Confirm Chemical Leak in Ohio River

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A map showing the area of East Liverpool, Oh. and Chester, W.Va., where a leak of Styrene was reported Friday.

Emergency officials have confirmed a chemical leak into the Ohio River in the area of Chester, West Virginia and East Liverpool, Ohio.

City of Liverpool Assistant Fire Chief David Edgell said a regional HAZMAT team made up of his department and fire departments in West Virginia are responding to a "small release" of what they believe is Styrene into the river.

He said the leak was discovered at some point after 10 a.m. Friday and has since been contained.

Edgell said the leak originated from a bulk storage tank facility along the Ohio River in East Liverpool. He said it is unknown at this time who owns the facility. The leak was discovered in a dike within the facility's containment area. Private contractors are now working to contain the spill.

Both Chester and East Liverpool have public water intakes upstream from the spill. Officials from each town say they are not worried about possible drinking water contamination.

"As soon as we found out about the situation we followed protocol to shut down the system," said Chester's water superintendent Jason Havens. But he said it was just an extra precaution that probably wasn't needed since the intake is about a mile north of the spill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, styrene "is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins.  Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects."


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