EAST PALESTINE, OH (AP) — Evacuated residents can now return to an Ohio village where crew members burned toxic chemicals after a train derailed near the Pennsylvania border five days ago . Currently, monitors are not showing dangerous levels in the air, officials said Wednesday.
James Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted round-the-clock tests inside and outside evacuation zones around villages in East Palestine and Sliver in Pennsylvania, and found that the air was normal to what it would have been seen before the derailment. It was shown to have returned to level.
“Hundreds of data points collected so far show that the air quality is safe,” he said.
Residents were ordered to evacuate when authorities decided to release and burn five tankers filled with PVC on Monday, releasing hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air.
The monitors detected airborne toxins during controlled combustion at the derailment site, but no other samples outside that area, Justice said.
The mayor expressed relief that the evacuation had been lifted.
“We know everyone is frustrated. Everyone wants to be in their own home. We did everything we could,” said Mayor Trent Conaway. . “Public safety was the number one goal and we achieved that. No one was injured, no one died.”
He credits the village’s part-time firefighters and their quick response to the derailment to saving the town.
Despite reassurances from authorities, some residents say they are worried about going back, even though authorities say it’s okay to go home.
But Justice said it’s unlikely there are dangerous levels of toxins in homes and businesses based on readings from air monitors around communities.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said some residents may want to wait until their homes are checked. “We will continue to operate the family support center,” he said.
“Of course you want to do a test before you go home,” says DeWine.
The governor said the railroads should cover the cost of cleaning up and ensure that something like this never happens again. It’s about assuring the public,” said DeWine.
Testing in rivers, streams and drinking water wells continues throughout the region and the nearby Ohio River.
Kurt Kollar, president of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said pollutants from derailed tankers spilled into some waterways and were toxic to fish, but data so far suggests that drinking water is not safe. I added that it shows that it is protected.
The fire from the chemical release was no longer burning and the crew began clearing some of the wreckage.
About 50 vehicles, including 10 carrying dangerous goods, derailed in a violent crash on the edge of eastern Palestine on Friday night. Federal investigators say a mechanical problem with the rail car’s axle was responsible for the derailment.
No injuries have been reported from derailments or controlled release of chemicals, but some people have complained of smells of chlorine and smoke in the air and headaches.
At least one lawsuit has been filed over the derailment. A business owner and two other residents of East Palestine sued Norfolk Southern in federal court on Tuesday, alleging the company’s negligence and resulting exposure to toxic substances. and is about to file a class action lawsuit for people who were physically injured in a chemical spill at the site.
Norfolk Southern declined to comment on the lawsuit.
https://www.mcall.com/2023/02/09/air-near-ohio-derailment-safe-for-residents-to-return-home-2/ Residents can return to their homes after train derailment