A new round of evacuation orders was ordered Monday ahead of the controlled release of toxic substances in cars at the scene of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Crews on site carried out the release of the hazardous chemicals from five of the derailed tankers which threatened to explode just after 3:30 p.m.
According to local officials, two of the five cars detonated in the incident were completely polymerized.
One of the main concerns was the presence of vinyl chloride in the five exploded train cars. The substance is highly toxic and can cause acid burns in the lungs if swallowed.
After the explosion, locally officials said the fire has ‘diminished’ and the flames have become more manageable but they are waiting for it to cool down to move in.
This was the explosion caused by the controlled release of the toxic chemicals at the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio
Local officials strategically detonated the five train cars with vinyl chloride
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had previously issued a dire warning to residents of the city, which is near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, saying the consequences could be drastic for those who choose not to heed the warnings.
“You have to go, you just have to go. This is a matter of life and death,” DeWine said at a news conference.
‘Vinyl chloride in itself is carcinogenic. Some of the other things are just as bad,” Silverio Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist, told WKBN.
“The hydrogen chloride is bad enough that when you breathe it in, it mixes with the water in your lungs and you can get acid burns in your lungs,” Caggiano said.
Another major concern is that the combustion of the substances released from the train cars sends phosgene – a highly toxic gas that can cause vomiting and respiratory problems – into the air.
The substance is so dangerous that it was used as a weapon during the First World War.
After the controlled release of the toxic chemicals began, officials said two of the train cars were completely pulverized.
Before the release of the toxic chemicals began Monday, officials knocked on doors to ensure all residents had been evacuated.
Some 2,400 residents were warned to leave immediately.
The explosion completely pulverized two of the train cars
Photos and videos were only allowed to be taken from a distance outside the evacuation zone
This was the original site after the Friday night crash
This was the huge plume of smoke over eastern Palestine, Ohio, Monday after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in eastern Ohio
Since the Friday evening after the crash, there has been constant fire and smoke in the area
This is the evacuation map released by the office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
“You have to go, you just have to go. This is a matter of life and death,” Governor DeWine said at a news conference
Another look at the huge plume of smoke emanating from the Ohio train derailment
DeWine shared an updated map showing the evacuation zone Monday afternoon
Eastern Palestine is near the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania
This is a top view of some of the train cars damaged in the derailment
Five of the cars involved in the accident were carrying the vinyl chloride, which is used to make the hard plastic resin of polyvinyl chloride.
According to the National Cancer Institute, it is also associated with liver and other cancers.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency and other officials had previously stated that they believed all residents of the affected area had disappeared.
In Ohio, the high-risk areas are eastern Palestine, including Parker, South Pleasant, BFI Access Road, Taggart Street, North Pleasant Road, Failor Road, and East Martin.
The expanded evacuation zone extended into Pennsylvania and affected 20 homes, according to Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro.
Pennsylvania State Police also went door to door to alert and assist residents.
It is not yet known when residents will be able to return home.
Scott Deutsch of the Norfolk Southern Railway said releasing the chemicals during the day would allow the fumes to disperse more quickly.
Officials also hope they can prevent shrapnel or debris from flying out of the property and injuring anyone in the affected area.
“We have no control over where that goes,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch initially estimated that the release could take up to three hours.
After an initial attempt to put out the blaze on Friday night, fire crews retreated and used unmanned devices as they tried to locate which cars were still on fire
Ten of the cars that derailed were carrying hazardous materials, according to officials
A HEPACO employee works in a creek along Sumner Street in downtown East Palestine, Ohio after the train derailment
The process officers used made small holes in the train cars.
The material was then discharged into a ditch where it was burned before being released into the air.
According to Deutsch, crews running this release have done this before.
Ohio National Guard police cars, snowplows and military vehicles were spotted blocking streets in the area on Monday.
Caggiano echoed the sentiments of local and state officials.
“They (the chemicals) can kill you because of the damage they can do to your respiratory system. Because most of the damage with this will be inhalation. So this is bad stuff,” Caggiano said.
Ohio National Guard police cars, snowplows and military vehicles were spotted blocking streets in the area on Monday
Although the derailment of the train itself occurred on Friday, fires and clouds of smoke were still high in the sky well into Monday.
The Norfolk Southern train was carrying freight from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania when it derailed.
According to emergency workers, the train consisted of 141 loading wagons, nine were empty, three were locomotives and a total of ten contained hazardous substances.
Officials had originally asked anyone living within a mile of the crime scene to leave and set up an evacuation center at East Palestine High School, which was staffed by the American Red Cross.
An evacuation center staffed by the American Red Cross was set up at East Palestine High School
Residents are now stranded and waiting to find out if their homes are okay
Shortly after the crash, local authorities called on residents to leave.
“I can’t stress enough that if you’re in the evacuation zone, you have to leave,” Village Mayor Trent Conaway said Sunday.
“Please stay away from eastern Palestine,” Conway said. “Please stay clear of the wreckage. I wouldn’t say it’s a dangerous situation, but it’s still a very volatile situation.’
The fire service had initially tried to extinguish the fire, but faced complications.
However, the efforts were halted as concerns about the toxins grew.
As of Monday, no injuries or deaths have been reported.