Residents in the area were ordered to evacuate once authorities determined five of the train cars may have been full of the flammable gas.
Officials on Monday completed the release of toxic chemicals that had been carried on a train that derailed over the weekend in eastern Ohio. Officials had warned that the chemical could be deadly if inhaled.
The release of vinyl chloride, a toxic, flammable gas used to produce vehicle interiors and PVC piping, was completed late Monday afternoon after evacuations were expanded from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of Friday night’s derailment, to an adjacent community in Pennsylvania.
The release was “successfully completed,” according to the train’s operator, Norfolk Southern. A burn off of material would continue past nightfall, it said.
A federal Emergency Alert System message on Monday urged residents in East Palestine and Pennsylvania’s Darlington Township to leave immediately.
The office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Sunday night 500 people had defied orders to leave, but on Monday he said he believed all had left.
The Ohio National Guard was deployed to the area late Sunday, and authorities went door-to-door urging stragglers to move out, DeWine said at a news conference Monday.
“Those in the red area are facing grave danger of death if they are still in that area,” the governor warned.
Two of five train cars believed to be carrying vinyl chloride were likely filled with the gas, and temperature changes could have set it off, officials said at the news conference.
That left leaders with two bad choices: Release a gas known for its deadly potential if inhaled and associated with a higher risk of cancer, or stand back for an extended period of time amid the potential for an explosion at the derailment site.
Authorities said an explosion would come with two dangers, including the same one that comes with a controlled release, exposure to a hazardous material.
“The vinyl chloride contents of five rail cars are currently unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes,” the Ohio governor said.
Source: NBC News