Cautious residents return home after toxic chemical train derailment

Residents forced to evacuate the Ohio village in eastern Palestine began returning home after learning on Wednesday that hundreds of air samples showed no dangerous levels of toxins after the controlled release and the burning of five tank trucks which were among the approximately 50 cars which derailed last Friday.

Authorities announced the lifting of the evacuation order at a Wednesday night press conference in East Palestine, Ohio. East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said air and water samples determined the evacuation zone, which covered a radius of about a mile, was safe for residents.

Evacuees speak of train derailment in eastern Palestine, Ohio
An aerial view shows a plume of smoke, following a train derailment that forced people to evacuate their homes in East Palestine, Ohio.

Alan Freed via Reuters

Evacuation orders were issued last week and officials urged residents of neighboring countries Beaver County, Pennsylvania to stay indoors as a precaution.

Mayor Trent Conaway acknowledged that people remained frustrated with the lingering smells and promised the village ‘didn’t just believe’ train operator Norfolk Southern Railway and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency were involved in air testing. The village’s drinking water system is tested daily and is safe, he said.

The mayor expressed frustration that trains started moving through the area again just after the evacuation order was lifted, and said it was earlier than expected.

February 3. approximately 50 wagons derailed in eastern Palestine as a train carried a variety of goods from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, train operator Norfolk Southern said. No injuries were reported.

Crews released vinyl chloride from the five carriages into a trough which was then ignited, creating a large plume over the village in eastern Palestine. Authorities were closely monitoring the air quality in the evacuation area.

About 300 requests for home air testing have been received so far, Columbiana County EMA Director Peggy Clark said. The tests take half an hour for each house and are managed by four teams working 10 hours a day, she said.

James Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it was unlikely there were dangerous levels of toxins inside homes or businesses based on the readings from the monitors. air around the community.

Schools in eastern Palestine, which have been closed all week due to the derailment, tentatively plan to reopen on Monday but will remain closed this week to deep clean buildings and have HVAC systems inspected.

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