It's still not safe for East Palestine residents to return home
Officials in East Palestine are continuing to monitor the safety of the area after the controlled release and burn of toxic chemicals Monday following a train derailment Friday night. Residents were urged to evacuate the area beginning Sunday night.
"There have been no reports of significant injuries either in the initial derailment or in the controlled detonation last night," Ohio Director of Public Safety Andy Wilson said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to monitor air quality, the agency's James Justice said.
“We were out monitoring through the duration of the night through the burn and following the burn," Justice said. "We did not detect anything of significance on site.”
The EPA responded to several calls concerning air quality in the area, Justice said.
"We did respond to a number of concerns of people noticing odors and smoke in other areas, and we sent teams to collect readings there," Justice said. "We didn't find any levels of concern at that time."
It is unknown when residents can return to their homes, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said.
“Quite frankly, once I feel it’s safe for my family to return, we will lift that evacuation order and start returning people home," Drabick said.
The controlled release was successful, Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railroad said.
"That fire pit is out. All five of the vinyl chloride cars are no longer burning. They're out," Deutsch said. "Four of those cars have been cleared from the wreckage already."
Two cars were filled with vinyl chloride, while three others were half full or less, totaling approximately 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride.
Boardman and other cities in the Mahoning Valley were briefly under an optional shelter in place order due to air quality after the controlled release.
“It was lifted this morning," Boardman Fire Chief Mark Pitzer said in a statement. "Nothing to report on. No findings."
The 50-car train crashed Friday night and was on fire until Monday, when officials started their own fire to release the toxic chemicals in five train cars. Remediation of the site will now continue, Norfolk Southern said.