Ohio train derailment threatens to explode: NPR

Smoke rises from a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio on February 4.

Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

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Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

Smoke rises from a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio on February 4.

Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of eastern Palestine in northeast Ohio have been told to evacuate, as officials fear the carriages of a train that derailed nearby could explode or release gas toxic.

Governor Mike DeWine released a evacuation order on Sunday evening for people living within a mile of the train derailment. According to DeWine, a majority of residents left before the evacuation notice, but at least 500 people had refused. Families with children who fail to evacuate could be arrested.

The threat of a major explosion emerged Sunday night after a derailed train car suffered a drastic temperature change, according to DeWine. A “catastrophic tanker failure” could cause an explosion and send deadly shrapnel up to a mile away, he continued.

There were also concerns about hazardous materials such as vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate and combustible liquids contained in derailed cars.

The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency said it was monitoring air quality and sampling water from Sulfur Run, a nearby creek, for contamination. As early as Sunday afternoon, officials told residents the air and drinking water were safe.

On Sunday night, Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin said there was “a high likelihood of toxic gas release and/or explosion.” Local, state and federal authorities were on the scene to prevent an explosion.

The East Palestine City school district is closed on Monday. Several roads are also closed throughout the village of East Palestine, since Monday morning.

About 50 carriages of a Norfolk Southern train derailed in eastern Palestine at around 9 p.m. local time on Friday. The train was heading east from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania.

The derailment sparked a fire that lasted several days and caused a strong odor in the area, according to member station WOSU.

Ten of the 50 derailed cars contained hazardous materials, five of which contain vinyl chloride, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

At a news conference on Sunday, the agency said investigations were ongoing, but preliminary results indicate that one of the wagons’ axles had mechanical problems.

The agency added that three crew members of the train were able to evacuate and no injuries were reported.


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