New Evacuations Ordered in East Palestine

Fearful of additional explosions, officials on Sunday ordered additional evacuations in East Palestine where the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train resulted in a massive fire that continued to burn Sunday night.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the evacuations in an announcement that noted that a “drastic temperature change” had occurred in a tank car that could lead to an explosion that would send shrapnel flying up to a mile away.

Columbiana County officials also joined in the new evacuation order. East Palestine is located on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

DeWine ordered Ohio National Guard troops to assist at the derailment scene. Police were going door-to-door to homes within a mile of the derailment site to inform residents of the evacuation order.

Officials said the order affected up to 2,000 and that more than 500 people had refused to leave.

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said one person had been arrested for going around barricades and approaching the crash site on Saturday night.

In the meantime, National Transportation Board investigators have found that the possible cause of the derailment on Friday may have been a defective axle.

NTSB investigator Michael Graham said a video of the train provides “preliminary indications of mechanical issues on one of the railcar axles.” He said that a wayside defect detector had informed the crew of a defect shortly before the derailment.

However, NTSB investigators have been hindered in their exploration of the derailment site by the need to first contain the fire.

NTSB officials have said that it is likely to take four to six weeks before they are able to issue a preliminary report on the derailment.

The derailment occurred just before 9 p.m. Friday when at least 50 cars derailed. The train, the 32N, was en route from Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh had 150 cars.

The crew was able to detach the locomotives from the train after it derailed and move to safety.

Officials have said 10 of the derailed cars carried hazardous materials. Five of those cars contained vinyl chloride, a flammable gas used to make plastic products,

In the wake of the derailment NS has been rerouting traffic around the wreck site with at least one stack train routed over the Southern Tier, and the New York, Susquehanna & Western.

Amtrak cancelled the Capitol Limited on Saturday and Sunday.

NS said it had established a Family Assistance Center “to address the needs of the community and support those directly impacted.”

The railroad also has made a $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross, which is providing services to displaced residents.

A news report said about 75 people visited the NS assistance center on Saturday and another 100 did so on Sunday morning.

NS said the derailed train also was carrying butyl acrylate, a raw material for products such as plastics, paints, and sealants; benzene residue; and other combustible liquids. Non hazardous materials on the manifest included wheat, plastic pellets, malt liquors, and lube oil.

Some chemicals that leaked from the derailment site have been detected in local runoff and streams.

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