Ohio officials call for evacuations near derailment amid explosion fears

AKRON, Ohio – Authorities warned Sunday that a “major explosion” is possible at the site of a train derailment, which led to a chemical fire, causing environmental and safety concerns in northeast ‘Ohio.

Residents living within a mile of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, a village near the Pennsylvania border, received an urgent evacuation order Sunday night. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Sunday there had been a “drastic temperature change” in a railcar that could cause a “catastrophic tanker failure”, making possible an explosion with shrapnel. shells traveling up to a mile.

Nearly half of the village of 4,761 was ordered to evacuate on Friday night after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed and caused a chemical fire. The village remained under a state of emergency and evacuation order, but local authorities said more than 500 people refused to leave their homes.

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Dozens of wagons, persistent fires

At a press conference early Saturday, officials said about 50 railcars were involved, many of which were still burning at the time.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, 20 cars were carrying hazardous materials and ten of those cars derailed.

Five of the ten derailed cars were carrying vinyl chloride, the NTSB said in a statement Saturday. The agency said it “has not confirmed that vinyl chloride was released other than from the pressure relief devices.”

The cars involved were also carrying combustible liquids, butyl acrylate and benzene residue from previous shipments, as well as non-hazardous materials such as wheat, plastic pellets, malt liquors and lubricating oil, according to the NTSB.

The NTSB announced Sunday that a mechanical problem with a railcar axle caused the derailment.

In a brief statement after the accident, Norfolk Southern, The transport company that owned the derailed train said it was coordinating with first responders in the village while assembling its own team to respond.

Mayor of the village of Trento Conaway issued an evacuation order for residents within a 1-mile radius of the derailment. He said no injuries or deaths had been reported.

On Saturday afternoon, the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office said a 10 p.m. curfew would be enforced within a 1-mile radius of the derailment.

Conaway warned people that arrests would occur if people did not stay away from the scene. He said one person had been arrested for bypassing barricades until the crash overnight.

“I don’t know why anyone would want to be up there; you’re breathing in toxic fumes if you’re that close,” Conaway said.

He also pointed out that air quality levels away from the fire presented no concern and that the water in the village is safe as it is supplied by groundwater unaffected by certain materials that have gone into streams. . Environmental Protection Agency crews were working to remove contaminants from the waterways and monitor water quality.

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“If you have to come to eastern Palestine, don’t”

East Palestine Fire Chief Keith A. Drabick told a news conference Saturday morning that the train was en route from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania.

Drabick said first responders were removed from the scene, but unmanned ground monitors were in use and air quality monitoring was ongoing. He said there were several explosions, leading to the decision to remove the speakers from the scene.

“If you have to come to eastern Palestine, don’t,” he said. “Stay out of the area.

Conaway said about 25 to 30 agencies were helping respond to the derailment. He said around 1,500 to 2,000 residents lived in the evacuation zone, adding: “That’s about half the town.”

On Facebook, former University of Akron student Eric Whiting said he was among those evacuated to eastern Palestine.

“The train is burning with chemicals on it and making the air hard to breathe,” he posted.

Contribute: The Associated Press

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