- By Brandon Drenon
- BBC News, Washington
Crews perform a controlled release of toxic chemicals from a derailed train in northeast Ohio, hours after ordering residents to evacuate the area or risk death.
Authorities release vinyl chloride into the air from five derailed cars that are at risk of exploding.
An evacuation order is in place for anyone within a one-mile (1.6 km) radius of the site in eastern Palestine.
Residents were asked to stay away from 10 p.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday.
Footage from the scene showed huge plumes of black smoke rising into the air shortly after officials announced the controlled release would begin.
The train, which derailed on Friday, was carrying hazardous materials.
Gov. Mike DeWine said on Sunday that “a drastic temperature change has occurred in a railcar, and there is now a risk of a catastrophic failure of a tanker that could cause an explosion with the potential for splinters. of deadly shells traveling up to a mile”.
He asked those who had not yet left “to evacuate immediately”.
Sheriffs went door to door to count the remaining residents and urged those in the evacuation zone to leave.
“We will enforce the evacuation zone,” Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin said in a statement. “Please, for your own safety, keep your families out of harm’s way.”
Schools and offices in the village were closed on Monday and businesses in the evacuation zone were not allowed to open.
A shelter-in-place order has been put into effect for the entire eastern Palestinian city, which is home to around 5,000 people, over concerns about the possibility of chemicals being released into the air.
Two evacuation stations were opened to shelter residents.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials said there were 20 cars carrying hazardous materials on the train. Ten of them derailed about 15 miles south of Youngstown, Ohio.
Five of the derailed cars were carrying the chemical vinyl chloride, a type of gas.
Exposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to increased risks of some forms of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute – but state environmental officials have said harmful levels have not been detected in the community.
It is not yet clear why the Norfolk Southern train, which was carrying more than 100 carriages, derailed. It started from Madison, Illinois and was heading for Conway, Pennsylvania when it went off the rails, according to the NTSB.
Officials said it would take the NTSB four to six weeks to produce a preliminary report on the crash.