East Palestine Evacuation Order Remains in Place

It may be several days before residents of East Palestine displaced by a Norfolk Southern derailment will be able to return to their homes.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday when asked when the evacuation orders will be lifted responded it would not be soon.

Residents within a one-mile radius of the derailment were ordered to evacuate their homes due to the health danger posed by hazardous materials being carried on the train.

Environmental officials are monitoring air and water quality within that mile radius and the results of that will determine when it will be safe to cancel the evacuation orders.

East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabeck said the order will lifted after the Ohio Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and NS determine it is safe for residents to return to their homes,

DeWine said he expected NS to pay for the costs of the derailment, which occurred Friday night and resulted in massive fires and smoke.

“They’re the ones who created the problem,” DeWine said. “It’s their liability. They’re the ones who ought to pay for it.”

Fifty cars of a 150-car manifest freight bound for Conway Yard near Pittsburgh derailed with 20 of the cars containing hazardous materials. The crew aboard the train was not injured.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have pointed to mechanical failure as the possible cause of the derailment.

However, they have cautioned that it will be several weeks before they will be able to issue a preliminary report regarding the derailment.

In the meantime, cleanup of the derailment site has continued. NS said in a statement that remediation at the site can now continue.

East Palestine is located on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said “no concerning readings had been detected” from air-quality monitoring at the derailment site.

Some Pennsylvania residents have been affected by the evacuation ordered at the derailment site. Shapiro said that has been 20 residences in the Keystone State.

Amtrak has said that its Capitol Limited will remain cancelled through Feb. 8. Nos. 29 and 30 last operated through East Palestine early Thursday morning.

East Palestine schools will remain closed through the end of this week.

A news report indicated that two men have been charged with ignoring orders to stay away from the derailment site. Both appeared in Columbiana County Municipal Court and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

Officials said a controlled release of vinyl chloride on Monday afternoon was delayed for an hour after people in two vehicles breached the perimeter around derailment site.

An NS spokesman said four of the tank cars involved in the derailment have been cleared from the site and are being inspected.

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