20 feared poisoned from apartment water in Tioga

TIOGA Officials on Thursday notified 20 tenants of the new Tioga Townhomes apartment complex along 12th Street Northeast in Tioga that their water may have been compromised with chemicals used to thaw frozen lines in the building.

Those possibly poisoned by chemicals should be tested at the Tioga Medical Center.

North Dakota Department of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Section Chief Tim Wiedrich said that chemicals may have been introduced a week ago but said that nobody knows for certain.

“There was a contractor that was attempting to clear frozen water lines and we suspect that there were chemicals put in the water lines to free those lines of ice,” Wiedrich said.

He added that they believe the contractor could have used antifreeze, gasoline or diesel fuel or a mixture of them to thaw the lines.

A survey of the water system structure in the City of Tioga leads officials to believe that the compromise is isolated to the one building and did not spread to the rest of the city’s water.

Water is currently being tested by the water department and water inspections have been made fairly recently on the building because it’s a new development, although city auditor Julie Ramos Lagos did not have an exact date of inspection immediately available Friday afternoon.

“Last night they turned off the water just for the safety of residents. At this time we don’t know if there has been anything placed in there. They’re just taking safety precautions,” Ramos Lagos said. “We’re just kind of waiting to hear back the results of the testing from the water department.”

Although the chemical compromise has not yet been confirmed, local authorities are taking a safe approach.

“From what I was told by my water superintendent and my police commissioner there were people going around and knocking on doors,” said Nathan Germundson, the president of the Tioga City Commission. “There weren’t too many people who were concerned or thought that they were in danger.”

He added that more people have been contacted since then.