Ohio train derailment: Evacuation order lifted, officials say

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Residents in an eastern Ohio town were given permission to return to their homes on Wednesday, five days after being evacuated when a train derailed and forced officials to burn toxic chemicals, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news

Residents of East Palestine evacuated after a Norfolk Southern Railroad train carrying vinyl chloride derailed Friday night, WHIO-TV reported.

East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick gave the all-clear to residents on Wednesday. Authorities had warned that burning the vinyl chloride, which was in five of the derailed tanker cars, would send hydrogen chloride and phosgene, a toxic gas, into the air, according to The Associated Press.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a news conference that he conferred with Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro before making the decision, WFMJ-TV reported.

Officials said that air monitoring had not detected dangerous levels of the chemical inside and outside of the evacuation zone, a mile-long area that stretched into Pennsylvania, the AP reported. Drabick added that air and water samples taken from the evacuation area on Tuesday showed that the region was safe.

Fire departments from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia originally assisted at the site, WPXI-TV reported.

Scott Deutsch, the regional manager of hazardous materials for Norfolk Southern Corporation, said at a news conference on Monday that authorities decided to perform a controlled release of chemicals “so that we control (these tank cars) that we have concerns with.”

A train traveling from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, derailed in East Palestine, on Friday. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said the train included 141 load cars, nine empty cars and three locomotives. About 50 of the cars were involved in the derailment, 10 of which contained hazardous materials.

Vinyl chloride is a highly flammable gas mostly used to make polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC. The substance is linked to an increased risk of several cancers, according to the National Institutes of Health.