Some Willard Residents Return to Their Homes

Some Willard residents are still displaced, but most of those forced from their homes after a CSX tank car leaked a hazardous substance were able to return home Thursday afternoon.

The residents of about 400 houses were vacated early Wednesday morning after a derailment resulted in the spilling of 13,000 gallons of styrene monomer, a flammable chemical used to make plastic.

Most residents returned home around 3 p.m. on Thursday after air testing showed it was safe. However, the 10 percent of residences closest to the spill site remained away from their homes as the cleanup efforts continued late Thursday.

Willard city manager Brian Humphress said officials hope that those still displaced could return no later than Saturday.

Those forced from their homes were treated to a thanksgiving meal in the in the Willard High School cafeteria. Ohio Gov. John Kasich came to the dinner to mingle with the residents of the southern Huron County city.

The menu included ham with pineapple slices, stuffing, corn, potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, and desserts.

Paper turkeys decorated the tables and a television set was tuned to an NFL football game featuring the Detroit Lions hosting the Green Bay Packers.

About 250 Willard residents attended the meal.

Rusty Orben, CSX director of public affairs, said air-quality testing continues and that the railroad is will investigate the accident’s cause after the cleanup is completed in a few days.

Four tank cars that derailed late Tuesday night were back on the tracks Thursday morning, which allowed workers to begin digging out ballast and soil beneath the tracks that was soaked with the spilled styrene. Two of the derailed cars also contained flammable chemicals.

The accident brought train traffic on CSX’s busy main line across Ohio to a halt, with some trains diverted to other routes.

Gary Ousley, Huron County’s chief dog warden, said his office is housing 20 to 25 dogs at the dog warden’s office and the Huron County Humane Society until their owners can retrieve them.

He said all the animals the agency had assisted seem to be in good condition.

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