Ohio residents living within a one-mile radius of a train derailment are being urged to evacuate amid fears a “major explosion” could send shrapnel flying.
On Friday, roughly 50 train cars derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, which caused a large fire.
The incident prompted an evacuation order for people within a one-mile radius. But by Sunday night, officials estimated roughly 500 people had declined to leave.
In a statement Sunday night, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tweeted, “East Palestine: Residents living within a mile of the train derailment site who have not yet left their homes are asked to immediately evacuate due to the potential of a major explosion.”
Check out the statement below:
East Palestine: Residents living within a mile of the train derailment site who have not yet left their homes are asked to immediately evacuate due to the potential of a major explosion. pic.twitter.com/F2BWmBipPx
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) February 6, 2023
He shared a press release that stated, “Within the last two hours, a drastic temperature change has taken place in a rail car, and there is now the potential of a catastrophic tanker failure which could cause an explosion with the potential of deadly shrapnel traveling up to a mile.”
“Although teams are working to prevent an explosion from happening, residents living within a mile radius of the site are advised to immediately leave the area. While most individuals in the one-mile radius have already evacuated, local officials say that more than 500 people have declined to leave their homes,” it continued.
It added, “Those who have the means to leave are advised to immediately evacuate.”
Additionally, the release noted DeWine activated the Ohio National Guard to assist local authorities.
The National Transportation Safety Board stated that shortly before the incident occurred, the train’s crew members received a warning about a mechanical issue.
Norfolk Southern reports the train was carrying various freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania.
The train operator explained 20 of the at least 100 cars were carrying hazardous material, and it reported 10 derailed.
CBS News reported first responders discovered evidence one of the train cars was releasing vinyl chloride.
“Vinyl chloride is used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin used in a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wires and packaging materials,” the outlet explained.
According to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride has been linked to a higher risk of a rare form of liver cancer.
In a post on Facebook, East Palestine’s account wrote, “Short-term exposure to low levels of substances associated with the derailment does not present a long-term health risk to residents.”
“Vinyl chloride and benzene may cause cancer in people exposed in the workplace to high concentrations for many years; however, there is no indication that any potential exposure that occurred after the derailment increases the risk of cancer or any other long-term health effects in community members,” it added.
Correction [2/06/23, 1:06 p.m. ET]: Previously, this story referred to the location incorrectly.
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