Update: Evacuation Order Lifted in East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, East Palestine Fire Chief and Incident Commander Keith Drabick, and local, state, and federal officials representing both states announced shortly after 5 p.m. today that evacuated residents in and around East Palestine can now safely return home.

Hundreds of residents evacuated their homes after a Norfolk Southern Railroad train carrying vinyl chloride derailed Feb. 3 in Columbiana County. To avert a possible explosion, the railroad conducted a controlled release of the chemicals, which discharged toxic and potentially deadly fumes into the air on Monday afternoon.

Air quality samples in the area of the wreckage and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern. Based on this information, state and local health officials determined that it is now safe for community members to return to their residences.

There will be ongoing air monitoring in the area. For those who would like air quality readings to be conducted within their homes, Norfolk Southern Railroad has hired an independent contractor to work with local law enforcement, the U.S. EPA, and state officials to take air quality samples and provide results at no charge to residents.

Free testing of water from private wells in the impacted area will also be offered by the railroad. In the interim, those with private water wells are encouraged to use bottled water, which can be supplied by Norfolk Southern. Those who remain uncomfortable returning home at this time can also request assistance with hotel expenses from the railroad.

SOURCE: Office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Image: Associated Press

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