EPA: Evacuation order lifted for East Palestine residents

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 7:23 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2023 at 2:53 PM EST
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COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that evacuated residents in East Palestine are cleared to return home.

Air quality concerns in East Palestine
Air quality concerns in East Palestine

Governor Mike DeWine made the announcement at a Wednesday afternoon press conference, along with the Village.

Air quality samples in the area of the wreckage and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern. Based on this information, state and local health officials determined that it is now safe for community members to return to their residences, according to a press release from the Governor’s officer.

Besides a number of East Palestine residents, the evacuation also included 20 homes in Pennsylvania.

Tammy Everson lived a half a mile from ground zero of the train derailment and tells 19 News she’s so happy to go home, “Everyone in here was clapping and excited to go home. I want to sit in my own chair.”

The train carrying vinyl chloride derailed in East Palestine Friday, Feb. 3.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the evacuation and activated the Ohio National Guard.

On Monday, Feb. 6, Norfolk-Southern Railroad crews did a controlled explosion of the five railroad cars at risk of explosion. After the explosion, the chemicals were directed in a trench and set on fire.

As of Tuesday, Feb. 7, Scott Deutsch with Norfolk-Southern Railroad said four of the five train cars have been cleared and they are waiting for approval to cut them up and remove them from the site.

The EPA has a webpage dedicated to updates about the derailment and its impacts on the surrounding environment.

A family assistance center will remain open during business hours and people can be reimbursed for the inconvenience of the evacuation for food, hotel stays. Businesses that lost money due to the derailment are also eligible to be reimbursed.

When Governor DeWine was asked who was going to pay for the clean-up, he made it clear saying, “Norfolk Southern.”