Crews Release Toxic Plume After Train Derailment

Ohio residents still not able to return home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2023 1:24 PM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2023 7:11 AM CST
Ohio Plans 'Controlled Release' of Toxic Gas
A black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of the controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk and Southern trains Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
UPDATE Feb 7, 2023 7:11 AM CST

Crews released toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding Monday and began burning it after warning residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line to leave the area. Flames and black smoke billowed high into the sky from the derailment site late in the afternoon, per the AP. Authorities say they are monitoring air quality, but residents of East Palestine were still not able to return as of Monday night, per ABC News. The train derailed on Friday night.

Feb 6, 2023 1:24 PM CST

Authorities in Ohio say they plan to release toxic chemicals from five cars of a derailed train in Ohio to reduce the threat of an explosion. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says a "controlled release” of vinyl chloride will take place on Monday at 3:30pm. Residents near the site have been ordered to evacuate. DeWine said residents need to leave the area because of the risk of death or serious injury, the AP reports. "We are ordering you to leave. This is a matter of life and death," DeWine said at a press conference. Anyone who remains in the immediate area faces "grave danger of death” if they inhale the fumes.

Police officers and others knocked on doors Sunday night telling people to leave and were back out in the same neighborhoods on Monday, DeWine said. Authorities believe most, if not all, people have left who were told to do so. Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railway said the controlled release during the daytime will allow the fumes to disperse more quickly and prevent the rail cars from exploding and sending shrapnel and other debris from flying through the neighborhood. "We can't control where that goes,” he said. Deutsch estimated the process would take from one to three hours.

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The site is very close to the state line, and the evacuation area extends into Pennsylvania. About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Friday night, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board. No injuries to crew, residents, or first responders were reported. Norfolk Southern said 20 of the more than 100 cars on the train were classified as carrying hazardous materials—defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger "including flammables, combustibles, or environmental risks." (More derailment stories.)

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