The crew began releasing toxic chemicals into the air from the five derailed tankers. Explosion hazard On Monday, residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border were warned to leave immediately or face possible death.
Flames and black smoke rose high from the derailment site in the late afternoon, about an hour after authorities announced the controlled release would begin. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency has confirmed that the release is underway.
Vinyl chloride was slowly released from five vehicles into a trough, which then ignited, creating a large plume over an East Palestinian village. But officials said they were closely monitoring air quality.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered evacuations in the area of the derailment, which has been smoldering since Friday night. Authorities believe most, if not all, of the residents of the danger zone have left, but they knocked on the door once more before releasing the PVC inside the vehicle, he said.
“You have to leave, you just have to leave. This is a matter of life and death,” DeWine said Sunday.
Following the start of the controlled release, DeWine said the incident was still an “ongoing event” and it was not expected that the evacuation order would be lifted Monday night. He said evacuation orders were followed and no arrests were made.
Officials said at a press conference that the metal needed to cool before the crew could safely return to the evacuation site and begin cleaning. When that happens, the crew begins the “wrecking” process. During this process, the cars are removed from the tracks and moved to a safe location that is monitored by National Transportation Safety Board officials.
Officials said it was the last option, but the blast was “perfect”.
At a separate press conference, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said no readings regarding air or water quality were detected as of Monday night after controlled vents and burns.
Shapiro thanked residents for heeding the evacuation order.
“I want to thank the good people of Pennsylvania for listening to important information from first responders, law enforcement and environmental protection agencies,” Shapiro said.
He said all precautions should be taken that residents living within two miles of the derailment should continue to evacuate there and keep their windows and doors closed.
Officials warned that controlled combustion would release phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the atmosphere. Phosgene, a highly toxic gas that causes vomiting and breathing problems, was used as a weapon in World War I.
Norfolk Southern Railway’s Scott Deutsch said doing this during the day would help the smoke disperse more quickly and prevent railcars from exploding and shrapnel and other debris into the neighborhood. rice field.
“We have no control over where it goes,” Deutsch said, estimating that the release will take one to three hours.
The process uses a small amount of explosive to pierce the car, entrench the material, and burn it before it is released into the atmosphere, he said. According to Deutsch, crew members working with controlled releases have done this safely before.
This location is very close to the state line, and the evacuation zone spans a sparsely populated area of Pennsylvania. About half of her 4,800 residents in eastern Palestine had been warned to vacate over the weekend before authorities decided to use controlled releases on Monday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said the evacuation zone includes about 20 Pennsylvania homes. The Pennsylvania State Police went door to door to help the last remaining residents and ensure they left.
“This is very serious,” he said. “I want you to know that if I were there right now and the First Lady and our children were there right now, we would evacuate.
Mandatory evacuations began in an eastern Palestinian village on Sunday night after authorities warned rail cars could explode after observing “dramatic temperature changes” in them.
Residents were packing their lodging bags, loading their pets into their cars, and searching for hotel rooms Monday morning. The village police have moved out of the communications center as the threat of explosions grows.
Police cars, snowplows, and Ohio National Guard military vehicles blocked roads leading into the area.
Rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board said about 50 vehicles, including 10 carrying dangerous goods, derailed in violent crashes on Friday night. No injuries have been reported to crew, occupants, or first responders.
According to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute, the vinyl chloride used to make plastic products’ polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin was transported and has been linked to an increased risk of liver and other cancers. was five people.
Federal investigators say the cause of the derailment was a mechanical problem with the rail car’s axle.
NTSB officer Michael Graham said on Sunday that three train crew had been warned of a mechanical defect “shortly before the derailment”. Investigators have identified the exact “derailment point,” but the commission continues to work to identify which vehicles experienced axle problems, he said.
Mayor Trent Conaway, who declared a state of emergency in the village, said one person had been arrested for bypassing the barricade just before the crash. He warned people to stay away and said he risked being arrested.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to go there. If you’re that close, you’re breathing toxic fumes,” he said.