Video of brown tap water from Oregon, not Ohio
Social media users claim a video of brown tap water was taken in East Palestine, Ohio following the February 2023 derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals. This is false; the footage was taken in the US state of Oregon and is unrelated to the accident.
"The Water in East Palestine, Ohio is 'Safe and Effective' according to authorities," says a February 20, 2023 tweet.
The post includes a clip of running water in a sink, with a narrator commenting on its discoloration.
"This is our water, this is what they told us to do: was just to run it a little bit, let the pipes clear out," the speaker says. "They had to turn it off, it'll be fine. Just keep running it, it'll be fine."
Screenshot of a tweet taken March 2, 2023
The video circulated elsewhere on Twitter, including in Spanish.
The posts come amid public fears about water safety following the February 3 train derailment in Ohio. The accident, which resulted in a massive fire and the release of toxic chemicals into the soil, air and water, forced the temporary evacuation of thousands of residents.
While East Palestine residents have been allowed to return home, many have voiced alarm over health issues, with some reporting headaches and saying they fear they may end up with cancer in several years.
But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told AFP on March 1 that East Palestine's drinking water was safe. The tweets also misrepresent what is seen in the clip, which was taken more than 2,000 miles away.
Video from Oregon
Using a reverse image search, AFP found the original footage was published February 16, 2023 on TikTok.
"Im OVER it. 5 floods in two years," the caption says. "The water looks like this bc they turned it off. Bc the building is flooding. Again."
Im OVER it. 5 floods in two years … the water looks like this bc they turned it off. Bc the building is flooding. Again.
♬ Creepy and simple horror background music(1070744) - howlingindicator
Some commenters claimed the video, which accumulated nearly 700,000 views, showed tap water in Ohio. But in a follow-up post published the same day, the creator said the video was taken in Oregon.
Screenshot of a TikTok post taken March 2, 2023
Other clips from the same account indicate the creator is based in Corvallis, Oregon -- nearly 2,200 miles away from East Palestine.
Corvallis is a flood-prone area, but it is unclear if the water shown in the TikTok post was due to flooding. The city's website says such discoloration is "often the result of old plumbing."
A water quality report from the city adds: "Rust from old iron or galvanized plumbing inside your home can cause brown, red, or yellow discoloration and a metallic 'off' taste. While the US EPA still considers this water safe to drink, the color is disturbing to many people."
Patrick Rollens, a Corvallis public information officer, told AFP in a March 2 email that the city made some repairs to a broken water main in February. But "based on some of the details from other videos, it really sounds like this is an issue with the building's internal infrastructure," he said.
While iron can give water a brown tint, the EPA considers it a secondary contaminant, which the agency says "are not health threatening."
AFP has fact-checked other claims about the Ohio train derailment here.