Willard Residents Evacuated After Tank Car Leak

A hazardous chemical spill on CSX in Willard late Tuesday night forced the evacuation of 400 households in that north central Ohio city.

Willard Police Chief Mark Holden told the Toledo Blade that the displaced residents may be able to return to their homes late Wednesday or they may be kept away until sometime Thursday. 

Police began evacuating the residents between midnight and 3 a.m. after a tank car spilled about 26,000 gallons of styrene monomer, a flammable substance.

CSX Spokesman Gary Sease said the spill occurred because four rail cars derailed during a switching maneuver.

No CSX employees or residents were injured. Sease said CSX officials built earthen dams to stop the product from spreading beyond CSX property.

Those evacuated lived in a half-mile radius of the spill in an area bounded by Tiffin, Dogtown, Second, and Myrtle streets.

Most evacuees were taken to Willard High School with others being lodges at motels as far away as Tiffin and Sandusky. CSX is paying for the lodging.

Police officers, firefighters and state highway patrol troopers went door-to-door after an initial telephone alert.

The rail car leak was discovered shortly before midnight near where the CSX tracks cross West Main Street.

Representatives of the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA were on the scene along as cleanup crews hired by CSX. Cleanup started about 4:30 a.m. with crews vacuuming the liquid into a tanker.

News reports indicated that the cleanup process was going slower than hoped because the substance vaporizes quickly and is highly flammable.

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