Authorities warn of possible ‘catastrophic’ explosion at derailment site in Ohio

train derailment ohio
This drone photo shows part of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed on the night of February 3, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio, February 4, 2023.

Gene J. Pusker/AP

Officials monitor the smoldering, tangled wreckage Train derailment in northeastern Ohio It urgently warned hundreds of nearby residents who refused to evacuate on Sunday night, saying railcars were at risk of explosions that could fly deadly shrapnel as far as a mile. .

According to a statement from the office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, they warned of a “possible catastrophic tanker failure” after observing “dramatic temperature changes” on that train.Eastern Palestine. The contents of the vehicle, or whether it was in a vehicle carrying dangerous goods, was not determined.

Authorities urged everyone within a one-mile radius of the site to vacate immediately. Many have moved out, but local authorities have indicated that more than 500 residents have refused to leave, the statement said.

CBS Pittsburgh reported:

The Columbiana County emergency manager told CBS Pittsburgh that the condition of one of the derailed trains carrying hazardous materials is deteriorating, raising concerns about an uncontrolled release and explosion of the vehicle. rice field.

A small explosion was caught on video early Monday morning as crew members continued to work to extinguish the burning railcar, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

Federal investigators had announced on Sunday that a severe derailment had occurred Friday night near the Pennsylvania border due to a mechanical problem with a rail car axle.

train derailment ohio
In this photo, courtesy of Melissa Smith, a train fire is seen from her farm in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, 2023. An evacuation order was issued for an Ohio village near the Pennsylvania border due to a train derailment and the resulting large fire.

(Melissa Smith via AP)

Michael Graham, director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a press conference that three train crew members had received warnings about a mechanical defect “just before the derailment”, but the commission has yet to confirm. You said you are working to determine which vehicle… I have experienced a problem.

Railroad operator Norfolk Southern said about 50 carriages derailed in Eastern Palestine as the train was carrying a variety of goods from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania. No injuries have been reported to crew, occupants, or first responders.

Investigators identified the exact “derailment point,” Graham said, but did not disclose Sunday’s location. He said he would.

An East Palestinian official said emergency response forces were watching but were keeping a distance from the fire and could not begin repair work while the car was smoldering.

Mayor Trent Conaway, who declared a state of emergency in the village, said one person had been arrested for bypassing the barricade to the crash site during the night. He warned that more arrests would follow if people stayed away.

“I don’t know why you’d want to go there. If you’re that close, you’re breathing in toxic fumes.” Environmental Protection Agency crews were working to remove pollutants from the stream and monitor water quality.

Sheriffs went door-to-door on Sunday, counting remaining residents and urging people within evacuation zones to leave. Schools and village halls will remain closed until at least Monday, and businesses within the evacuation zone are not allowed to operate on Mondays, officials said.

Norfolk Southern defines 20 of the train’s 100 or more carriages as dangerous goods, defined as cargo that “contains flammable, flammable, or environmental hazards” that may pose a hazard of any kind. said to be classified as carrying

According to the NTSB, only 10 vehicles carrying hazardous materials were derailed, five of which were carrying PVC, not the previously claimed 14. Officials emphasized late Saturday that they had not seen releases of vinyl chloride outside of pressure relief devices operating as designed.

According to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride, which is used to make polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resins in various plastic products, is linked to an increased risk of liver and other cancers. .

According to a “Frequently Asked Questions” post on the village’s Facebook page, “Short-term exposure to low-level substances associated with derailment does not pose a long-term health risk to residents.” Benzene can cause cancer in people exposed to high levels over many years in the workplace.Members of the community.”

Officials said Sunday afternoon that the vehicles involved contained not only non-hazardous items such as wheat, plastic pellets, malt liquor and lubricants, but also residues of flammable liquids, butyl acrylate and benzene from previous shipments. said it was included.

The evacuation orders targeted 1,500 to 2,000 homes among the town’s 4,800 to 4,900 residents, but officials said it was unclear exactly how many were actually affected. Most of those who were there were gone by Sunday.

Norfolk Southern opened a support center in the village to collect information from affected residents. Village officials said he had 75 people visit the center on Saturday and about 100 on Sunday morning. Authorities warn of possible ‘catastrophic’ explosion at derailment site in Ohio

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