Controlled release of gas occurs in East Palestine following train derailment

Evacuation plan still in place, burn off still ongoing
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 8:22 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 3:32 PM EST
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COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - Officials extended the current evacuation area in East Palestine Monday afternoon to a one-mile by two-mile area following a train derailment Friday, that led to the ongoing hazardous situation which began Sunday evening.

The evacuation area now also includes 20 homes in Pennsylvania.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Norfolk-Southern Railroad crews would carryout a controlled explosion of the five railroad cars at risk of explosion around 4 p.m. Monday.

After the explosion, officials said the chemicals are supposed to be directed into a trench, which will then be lit on fire.

Besides the possibility of deadly shrapnel, which could travel up to a mile, officials are also concerned about the chemicals being released into the air. The main chemical they are concerned with is vinyl chloride.

DeWine said residents closest to the crash site are at “risk of death” if they do not evacuate immediately. Crews are knocking on doors in the area, making sure residents are out of their homes.

Experts are evaluating the status of the air quality, ground-water quality, fish and wildlife.

The Ohio National Guard, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, Ohio Emergency Management Agency officials, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agents are also on scene with Columbiana County officials.

Those who need help evacuating the area should call 330-426-4341.

Around 20 people spent Sunday night inside the evacuation center at East Palestine High School at 360 W. Grant St.

“Giving people a safe place to come, some of them have no place else to go. So we’re running this, we’ve got some food, water, set them up with cots. It’s not the best thing to be in an evacuation shelter, but it’s better than sleeping in your car,” said Charles Emick with the Red Cross.

“Chaotic. A lot of people don’t want to leave their house. They don’t understand what the dangers are. Some of them have pets in their homes. It’s hard to convince them to get out,” said Emick.