EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio’s top government officials have spent the week spreading the message that the water in East Palestine is safe to drink — even drinking it themselves on camera. But the public reassurances haven’t quenched residents’ doubts following the fiery train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals.

On Feb. 15, the first publicly released water quality data report found no dangerous contaminants in East Palestine’s drinking water after Norfolk Southern Railway cars went off the tracks, releasing vinyl chloride and other hazardous materials at the site. But the report, prepared for Norfolk Southern’s private consulting company AECOM, did not quell the skepticism that remains rampant in the western Ohio village.

“I wont even drink our water right now. I have a cat. She likes getting drinks out of the water fountain, and I won’t let her do it,” one East Palestine resident told Nexstar sister station Fox 8.

As news of the train derailment spread across the U.S., the initial water data caught the attention of aquatic ecologist Sam Bickley, who recently earned his Ph.D. from Auburn University.

“I saw the governor’s statement that the water was safe to drink,” Bickley said. “Based on my background — my experience doing this type of work, also kind of reviewing these types of reports and documents — as a researcher, I wanted to look at the data myself.”

Bickley pointed to portions of AECOM’s report, which was prepared by a lab not affiliated with the company, stating that pH levels of some samples collected by AECOM fell outside testing method limits, and some samples were “unpreserved.”

The report goes on to state that the impact to the data as a result of these issues is unknown.

“I would not make a decision in a academic setting based on that,” Bickley said. “I certainly wouldn’t make a decision in like a public health situation based on those data.”

In addition to AECOM, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is conducting the same tests in East Palestine. Both agencies continue to test water samples today.

“It’s not just simply showing up, throwing water in a bottle,” said Amy Klei, who leads the agency’s Division of Drinking and Ground Waters. “There’s a lot of steps that we take to ensure the integrity of these samples.”

Klei, whose comments were part of a video recorded by the OEPA and provided to NBC4, said steps include collecting samples at the proper locations, using the correct containers and wearing gloves to prevent contamination. She said there is also a documented chain of custody for the samples.

An OEPA spokesperson said the issues in the contractor’s initial report were not enough to invalidate the results, reiterating the water is safe. AECOM told NBC4 in a statement that it stands by the work of its field staff, who are trained to collect samples in accordance with the state’s environmental industry standards.

Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine, said it is “extremely unlikely, if not impossible,” that the chemicals released in East Palestine infiltrated its water sources, citing the distance between the derailment site and the location of the city’s water wells.

“None of the water tests have shown elevated levels nor levels of concern,” Tierney said. “The multiple tests showing these results give added confidence in the safety of the water supply.”