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East Palestine Train Derailment: Evacuation order lifted as officials say air and water samples show it's safe

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East Palestine evacuation order lifted as officials say air and water samples show it's safe 03:09

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania said Wednesday, Feb. 8, that residents can return home five days after a massive train derailment in East Palestine.

In a press conference, authorities said the evacuation order has been lifted. The massive, fiery train derailment happened on the evening of Friday, Feb. 3. On Monday, Feb. 6, officials released toxic chemicals from the tankers involved in the derailment. 

"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," a release from Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro's office said.

Previously, authorities urged anyone within a 1-mile radius of the site to leave immediately. The evacuations extended into nearby areas across the border in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Officials warned of "the potential of a catastrophic tanker failure" after a "drastic temperature change" was observed in that rail car on Sunday, according to a previous statement from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's office. 

The fire from the chemical release is no longer burning, and crews are still removing wreckage.


Lawsuit seeks medical testing after toxic train derailment

Residents who filed a federal lawsuit in the fiery derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals along the Ohio-Pennsylvania line are seeking to force Norfolk Southern to set up health monitoring for residents in both states.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by two Pennsylvania residents calls for the rail operator to pay for medical screenings and related care for anyone living within a 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius of the derailment to determine who was affected by toxic substances released after the derailment. The lawsuit also is seeking undetermined damages.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed Feb. 3 in the Ohio village of East Palestine. No one was injured in the derailment that investigators said was caused by a broken axle.

Three days after the accident, authorities decided to release and burn vinyl chloride inside five tanker cars, sending hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air.

Environmental regulators have been monitoring the air and water in surrounding communities and have said that so far the air quality remains safe and drinking water supplies have not been affected.

But some residents have complained about headaches and feeling sick since the derailment.

Norfolk Southern declined to comment on the lawsuit.

By The Associated Press

Body-camera shows commander confront reporter before arrest

A cable news reporter pushed to the ground and handcuffed while covering a news conference had a heated confrontation with the leader of the Ohio National Guard just before the reporter was arrested, body-camera footage showed.

NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest Wednesday after authorities said he was told to stop his live broadcast and then refused their orders to leave the news conference with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Click here for more.

By The Associated Press

Wary residents return home after train derailment

Hours after being told she could go home for the first time since a train hauling chemicals derailed and later sent up a toxic plume near the Pennsylvania state line, Melissa Henry nervously walked inside her house.

First, she washed her sheets and pillow cases. Then she started throwing out everything left on her kitchen counters. She opened all of her windows too, hoping to air out whatever might have seeped inside while fearful of the air outside too.

"Was that the right thing to do or not? You just don't know," she said Thursday. "It was a nightmare, it still is."

Residents forced to evacuate the Ohio village of East Palestine began trickling home after being told Wednesday that hundreds of air samples showed no dangerous levels of toxins following the controlled release and burn of five tankers that were among nearly 50 cars that derailed last Friday.

Some, including Henry, came back within the first few hours while others were waiting to see the results of air sampling inside their homes before returning.

"I was a nervous freaking wreck last night," she said. "My kids are here that's my biggest concern."

Henry and her two boys had stayed with her parents for nearly five days while waiting for the derailment to be cleaned up. She left on Saturday before the mandatory evacuations were ordered because her youngest son's "eyes turned red as tomato and he was coughing a lot," she said.

Since coming home, she and the boys have been washing clothes, changing filters in the furnace and scrubbing down just about everything. "I don't know if that's going to work, but we have to do something," she said.

Mayor Trent Conaway acknowledged people remain frustrated by lingering odors, and promised the village is "not just taking the word" of rail operator Norfolk Southern Railway and has Environmental Protection Agency representatives involved in air testing. The village's drinking water system is being tested daily and is safe, he said.

The mayor expressed frustration that trains started running through the area again right after the evacuation order was lifted, and said that was sooner than he'd expected.

He said his primary concern is his residents and their health, and he promised to hold Norfolk Southern accountable.

"This isn't going to get swept under the rug. I'm not going to be the country bumpkin that gets, you know, talked over by a big corporation," Conaway said. "We're going to hold their feet to the fire. They're going to do what they said they were going to do, and they're going to protect the people of this town."

About 300 requests for air testing in homes have been received so far, Columbiana County EMA Director Peggy Clark said. The testing takes a half-hour for each home, and is being handled by four teams working 10 hours a day, she said.

James Justice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it was unlikely there be would any dangerous levels of toxins inside any homes or businesses based on readings from air monitors around the community.

Schools in East Palestine, which were closed all week because of the derailment, tentatively plan to reopen Monday but will remain closed this week to deep-clean buildings and have HVAC systems inspected.

Mallory Burkett, who lives just outside the area where residents were forced to leave but decided to evacuate on her own, said it was strange feeling to return.

"Nobody really knows what this is going to do," Burkett said. "Ten years from now is when we'll really know."

By The Associated Press

Assistance numbers for residents living near the East Palestine train derailment

Authorities have provided these assistance numbers for those residents who lived within the East Palestine train derailment evacuation zone.

  • NS Family Assistance – 1-800-230-7049
  • Home Air Screening – 330-849-3913
  • Ohio EPA – 614-644-2160
  • US EPA –
  • CTEH Toxicology – 234-542-6474
  • Columbiana County – 330-967-7249
  • Community Action Agency – 330-424-4013
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

'This is home': East Palestine residents get OK to return

Families in East Palestine are thrilled to be home Wednesday night after officials announced earlier that the evacuation order was lifted. 

For people like Kimberly Ford, life can get back to normal. 

"I can sleep real good in my own home," she told KDKA-TV.

She returned home days after police evacuated her and her neighbors following the train derailment. Ohio and Pennsylvania officials made the decision to lift the order after consulting with the experts on water and air quality levels. 

East Palestine residents relieved, ready to return home 03:21

"We never detected a sizable plume inside the evacuation zone," said James Justice with the EPA. "So we wouldn't expect to see high concentrations inside the home."

Anyone living within the immediate area surrounding the wreckage can get free tests for the air inside their homes and the water. 

"We know everybody's frustrated," East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said. "Everybody wants to be in their homes. We did the best we can. The number one goal was public safety and we accomplished that."

The last several days have taken a toll on the residents, but now they can reunite with their pets and belongings. 

"This is home," Tammy Everson said. "I wouldn't be anywhere else."

By Lauren Linder

PennDOT: Darlington Township roadways reopen

PennDOT has reopened Route 51 and several roadways in Darlington Township.

The roadways were closed to traffic Monday morning due to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. 

"All roads in Beaver County have reopened to traffic," PennDOT said in a release.

By Michael Guise

Evacuation order lifted as officials say air and water samples show it's safe

Officials announced on Wednesday evening that the evacuation order has been lifted. 

East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said air and water samples have been analyzed and it's now safe to be in the evacuation area. 

To make sure everyone returns safely, Drabick asked residents to follow the traffic plan posted on Columbiana County EMA's website.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in "layman's terms," the air quality readings are now basically the same as before.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro released a similar statement, saying air quality samples from the wreckage site and nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently shown readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern.

An official with the Ohio EPA said material had entered the waterways and killed fish but drinking water is safe. He said officials have been sampling water and looking for short-term effects as well as long-term effects.   

When asked about building trust between Norfolk Southern and the community again, DeWine said the burden is now on the company to make sure something like this never happens again anywhere in the country. 

The Pennsylvania governor's office said there will be ongoing air monitoring in the area, and Norfolk Southern has hired an independent contractor to conduct air quality readings inside homes. Free testing will also be offered for private wells in the area. Residents interested can call 330-849-3919. 

Anyone with concerns can talk to a toxicologist at 234-542-6474. 

By Madeline Bartos

Norfolk Southern reimbursing displaced residents

The excitement over East Palestine residents going home doesn't eliminate the expenses incurred while people were forced out.

Norfolk Southern is offering some help. They have an assistance center set up at Abundant Life Church.

"People can come in and get reimbursed for inconvenience, for the days they were out of their house, and expenses on top of that as well," said John Fletcher with Norfolk Southern Family Assistance. 

Those expenses, according to Norfolk Southern, include anything from diapers you had to buy for your kids while out of your home to hotel bills.

They are also prepared to start the process for businesses that experienced losses while the evacuation order was in place. There are also a few things that have been donated that people can come in and grab. 

As far as how much money Norfolk Southern is giving out to help these people, there is no cap, but the reimbursement will be based on how long they were displaced. Depending on the circumstances, some are getting money upfront.

"We're going to be here for quite a while and anybody that has out-of-pocket expenses related to this incident or evacuation, they're able to come in to us and seek reimbursement if they were in that evacuation zone," Fletcher said. 

While this reimbursement is happening, several people in the area have filed a class action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern claiming negligence.

According to CNN, the suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees. Norfolk Southern said they were not able to comment on the lawsuit.

Norfolk Southern does have a hotline for people to call if they have questions or concerns about losses and reimbursement. That number is 1-800-230-7049.

Norfolk Southern reimbursing displaced residents 02:20
By Erica Mokay

Weirton switches water supply out of abundance of caution

The governor of West Virginia says the derailed train leaked chemicals into the Ohio River, which led to a town switching to an alternate water supply. 

In a briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice said the town of Weirton had changed its water supply out of an abundance of caution.

He says the town's officials had acted immediately after they'd been notified of the chemical leak.

The spill from ruptured tanker cars would have had to travel through local creeks and tributaries to reach the Ohio River.  


What is vinyl chloride and what happens when it burns?

Days after crews released and burned toxic chemicals transported by a wrecked train in Ohio, residents remain concerned about the toxic substances that could be lingering in their evacuated neighborhoods.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Friday in East Palestine, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board. Vinyl chloride was slowly released into the air Monday from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.

Residents in the immediate area there and nearby in Pennsylvania were evacuated beforehand because of health risks from the fumes and can't yet return Wednesday, as the impact of burning vinyl chloride is a concern.


The gas is used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin in plastic products. It is found in products such as credit cards, furniture and car parts, but is most notably used in PVC plastic piping, a common material for plumbing.


Vinyl chloride is associated with increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government's National Cancer Institute.

The effect was studied in PVC pipe makers, who breathed in vinyl chloride and developed rare liver cancers, said Ruth Lunn, who studies carcinogens at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"If you worked longer, you had a higher risk, and if your exposure levels were high, you had a higher risk," Lunn said.

Vinyl chloride is dozens of times less toxic per molecule than the U.S.-banned insecticide DDT but more dangerous per part than ammonia and natural gas, according to federal regulations that dictate acceptable levels in the air.


Officials warned the controlled burn would send phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the air. Phosgene is a highly toxic, colorless gas with a strong odor that can cause vomiting and breathing trouble and was used as a weapon in World War I.

Phosgene is considered safe at 0.1 parts per million during an eight-hour exposure, or 0.2 ppm for a 15-minute exposure. The eight-hour exposure threshold would have to be even lower when measuring inside people's homes, where residents often spend more than eight consecutive hours.

Hydrogen chloride is a colorless to yellowish gas with a strong odor and its primary effect on humans is skin, eye, nose and throat irritation. It is considered safe at 5 ppm for an eight-hour exposure.

Read more here

By The Associated Press

Leaders in East Palestine expected to provide another update on Wednesday

Leaders in East Palestine, Ohio today are expected to provide yet another update on the train derailment that happened six days ago. 

The derailment forced families from their homes and crews are expected to give updates on the status of the cleanup as well as when residents in the evacuation zone can return to their homes. 

People living nearby were forced to evacuate on Friday and Saturday as a controlled detonation occurred. 

East Palestine residents waiting for all-clear to return home 02:04

As of Tuesday night, the EPA said air quality samples taken during and after the burn and detonation do not show a threat and that the controlled release was a success. 

"All five of the vinyl chloride cars are no longer burning," said Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railroad. "They're out, four of those cars have been cleared from the wreckage already and we'll continue to work our way down to get the fifth car through other damaged cars in the derailment." 

"Once I am sure I can bring everybody back home in a safe, effective manner, and get them back into their homes, we will do that as quickly as we can," added East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick. 

Meanwhile, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is still monitoring water quality for surrounding areas and currently say the drinking and groundwater are still safe. 

While there is no word when people can return home, we're hoping to hear more on that this morning. 

By Christopher DeRose

Unknowns fueling frustration

Five days after a massive derailment, cleanup is still happening in East Palestine, Ohio.

Now, it's all of the unknowns that are fueling some frustration. People who live there want answers, and they want to go home. Those overseeing this process want to answer those questions and get people home.

But right now, neither is happening.

William Huger lives only about 100 feet from the derailment. He showed up to Tuesday's press conference because his patience is thinning and his frustrations are growing.

"Do they actually know what they're doing?" he said.

Everyone here Tuesday, from village and state officials to representatives from the EPA, said they do. And what they don't know, they're waiting to learn.

East Palestine residents say they are ready to go home 02:54

"I want nothing more than to get my residents back home," East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said. "I can't do that without that data."

So far, the EPA says air quality samples taken during and after the burn do not show anything of significance, no threat except for in the immediate crash area, which emergency officials said is expected.

"I understand everyone's frustration," said Eric Brewer, the director of emergency services in Beaver County. "Safety is an inconvenience to everybody. We're not just gonna do this just because. It has to be methodical."

When repeatedly asked for timelines, the East Palestine fire chief stressed safety is the priority over speed.

"Once the Ohio Department of Health, EPA in conjunction with the East Palestine Fire Department and Norfolk Southern Railroad have determined this is safe for East Palestine to return to their home, and quite frankly, once I feel it's safe for my family to return, we will lift that evacuation order and start returning people home," he said.

Despite not getting a straight answer regarding when that will happen, there does seem to be some optimism from Pennsylvania emergency officials.

"My hope is within a couple of days or a day," Brewer said.

By Erica Mokay

Heavy equipment brought in to remove rail cars

NewsChopper 2 flew over the train derailment scene in East Palestine, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon as crews removed the heavy train cars. Heavy equipment has been brought in as clean-up begins.

NewsChopper 2 flies over the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, as crews remove the heavy train cars. (Photo Credit: KDKA)
By Heather Lang

Norfolk Southern: Fire pit is out and train cars are no longer burning

There is no estimate as to when people who live in East Palestine, Ohio, will be allowed back into their homes following a fiery train derailment last Friday night.

However, at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Ohio officials and public safety authorities said there have been no significant injuries through the derailment, controlled detonation of cars carrying hazardous materials, or the fallout from either incident.

Ohio Train Derailment Update 27:05

"That is such a great testimony to the strength of our emergency responders who reacted so quickly to get the resources we needed into the danger zone," Ohio Director of Public Safety Andy Wilson said. "It is a statement to the first responders and emergency response planning and coordination. A statement to the scientists and experts we brought in who are giving the decisionmakers the information they need to keep the community safe, but most of all it is a positive statement of strength with respect to the members of the community."

The fire pit used for the controlled detonation on Monday afternoon is now out and the five train cars carrying vinyl chloride are also no longer burning, Norfolk Southern officials said. 

Crews are working their way through the derailed cars. The National Transportation Safety Board is inspecting them, and then the workers are cutting them up and removing them from the site, the Norfolk Southern representative said.

He added that there are air monitors on site, as well as respirators for the workers.

The Ohio National Guard is also on site helping with traffic control, mapping, monitoring data.

Meanwhile, Ohio's Emergency Management Agency remains in a partial activation mode, which they entered into on Monday when the controlled release of the hazardous material began. Wilson said they will remain in that mode until a complete all clear is given and people will be allowed back into their homes.

Once that happens, Norfolk Southern said they will go from business to business impacted by the derailment and gather the information they need. 

Pennsylvania's Emergency Management Director Randy Padfield said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency continues to closely monitor the situation in Eastern Ohio and its effects on Southwestern Pennsylvania. As continues to be the case, no concerning air quality readings have been detected. For now, out of an abundance of caution, Pennsylvanians who were evacuated from their homes should continue to stay away from the site. We know how difficult it is to leave your home and thank Pennsylvanians for their continued cooperation. We are working with working with Norfolk Southern and our partners in Ohio to get people back in their homes as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Pennsylvanians who live within two miles of East Palestine where this derailment occurred should continue to shelter in place and keep their windows and doors closed. Pennsylvanians' health and safety are our top priority. We will continue to update the public as information becomes available."

By Heather Lang

East Palestine residents react to Norfolk Southern's progress on train derailment

Norfolk Southern said the release of toxic chemicals from the train cars was a success, and now they're monitoring the site.

Meanwhile, residents who had to evacuate wonder when they can finally return home.

"I'm ready to go home," said Michelle Massey. "I want the air to be safe for all of us, but I'm just ready to go home." 

Progress made in East Palestine, Ohio train derailment 02:15

Massy lives within a mile of where the train derailed, but she moved to the East Palestine High School on Sunday evening.

"You never think something like this is going to happen to you but it does," said Massey. "You never know what's going to happen."

Massey said she heard the loud boom when the train derailed Friday night, and stared in awe as crews released the vinyl chloride from five train cars Monday afternoon .

This after Norfolk Southern discovered at least one car was at risk of exploding and could launch deadly shrapnel into the air.

Meanwhile, local and state leaders urged thousands of residents who lived nearby to evacuate.

"The first night we were here, I think we had 47 to 51 somewhere in that range, and then the population dropped," said Jeff Mann who is the American Red Cross shelter supervisor.

Mann said as of Tuesday, there area bout 20 residents staying inside the gym receiving help from the non-profit organization and beyond.

"People have been so generous from the community restaurants, businesses, Giant Eagle, other ones out there have just stepped forward and helped out," said Mann. 

"Considering why we're here and everything, it's been a great experience," said Massey. Everybody has been so accommodating and so sweet and whatever you need, if they don't have it, they're going to try to get it for you."

They displayed the true definition of community. Massey said she can't thank everyone enough for their support.

By Briana Smith

Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA complete Mahoning Co. air sampling

The Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency says that air sampling was taken throughout the county and no readings of reportable levels of contaminates in the air.

Mahoming County is located just north of Columbiana County, where the derailment and explosion occurred.

The agency says that they continue to advise residents to use common sense and stay tuned for more information. 

By Mike Darnay

Norfolk Southern says detonation in train derailment went 'perfect'

Norfolk Southern says the release of toxic chemicals was a success and the railcars are safe.

Norfolk Southern says detonation in train derailment went 'perfect' 01:42

Now, they're trying to figure out the next steps while the evacuation order remains in place.

By Briana Smith

Authorities thankful they averted catastrophe

Authorities in Ohio and Pennsylvania are thankful they averted a major catastrophe after detonating five tankers that were breached after a train derailed Friday night in East Palestine. 

It came after specialists discovered late Sunday that at least one of the cars' pressure release devices was not working and creating a high concern for an explosion. 

State and local officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania put out emergency alerts to warn anyone close to the wreckage to evacuate and spent hours crafting a plan to control the situation Monday. 

Authorities brief public following controlled release of chemicals 03:19

"We look at other options. It's the last option," Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern said.

Flames and black smoke billowed into the sky for hours after the release. The fires have since diminished.

"We just wait for these little remaining fires to go out and then we can continue," Deutsch said.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said he spoke with President Joe Biden about the incident.

"He offered the full support of the federal government to Pennsylvania and Ohio," Shapiro said in a press conference. "I thanked him for reaching out and appreciate very much how much he cares about the good people of Pennsylvania and their health and safety." 

At this time, officials do not know when people can return to their homes. They said they want to make sure all is safe and secure before they do. 

Another update is expected Tuesday morning. 

By Michael Guise

Crews begin next steps after controlled release

The controlled release of toxic chemicals from five derailed tanker cars in East Palestine that were in danger of exploding was "successful" Monday, authorities said. 

In a statement, Norfolk Southern said, "The controlled breach of several rail cars has been completed successfully under the supervision of experts and first responders."

The release sent a column of black smoke and fire into the sky. There are no more chemicals in the cars but still a small fire remains. It will be monitored throughout the night and the next step will be a process called wrecking, which is when crews move all the cars to a safe area.

Air quality readings are still at safe levels, leaders said, but the evacuation remains in place. It's unclear when exactly it will end.

Ohio officials conduct controlled release of toxic chemicals 01:43
By Lauren Linder

EPA testing water quality after train derailment

A couple who live about five miles from where the train derailed spotted dead fish in Leslie Run on Sunday night and Monday morning. 

Environmental clean-up crews were out taking samples, including those dead fish. 

Booms are also in the water and are used to catch and stop anything that shouldn't be flowing there or into residential wells, which Linda and Russell Murphy use for just about everything. 

During Monday's press conference, the EPA indicated it is safe and they are doing testing to monitor the water quality in the area and will continues to do so for the duration of this operation. 

KDKA-TV's Erica Mokay reached out to Norfolk Southern about what's causing a sheen on the water and killing the fish but hasn't heard back. 

Dead fish found in Leslie Run near East Palestine train derailment 03:36
By Erica Mokay

East Palestine residents wait for the next steps

It's a waiting game for the evacuees of the train derailment.  Will their homes be safe? What comes next? Everyone still doesn't know.  

Right now, many residents are staying with other friends and family. The Abundant Life Fellowship Life Church is serving as a family assistance center.

Click here to read the full story.

Residents told to leave after East Palestine train derailment 02:07
By Chris Hoffman

Controlled release leads to plume of smoke

Authorities release chemicals inside derailed train cars 02:56

The controlled release of toxic chemicals from "several rail cars" at the derailment site "has been completed successfully," officials said Monday.

A massive plume of black smoke can be seen rising into the sky after the controlled release. KDKA-TV's Shelley Bortz, who is at the scene, said a loud boom was heard around 4:40 p.m. 

A look at the controlled release of material from the derailed train cars in East Palestine, Ohio. KDKA

In a statement, Norfolk Southern said:

"The controlled breach of several rail cars has been completed successfully under the supervision of experts and first responders. Some of the material is now burning off consistent with expectations from the earlier models, and is expected to drain for a short number of hours. We have been, and will continue, monitoring air quality with the Ohio EPA. Remediation work at the site can now safely continue."

KDKA-TV Meteorologist Ray Petelin said the plume of smoke is being picked up by radar and is drifting into northern Beaver County. 

The smoke plume is being picked up by radar. KDKA
By Shelley Bortz

Release of toxic chemicals from derailed tanker cars begins

Crews began releasing toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding Monday after warning residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line to leave immediately or face the possibility of death.

Flames and black smoke billowed high into the sky from the derailment site late in the afternoon, about an hour after authorities said the controlled release would begin. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency confirmed the release was underway.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine earlier ordered evacuations in the area of the derailment that has been smoldering since Friday night. Authorities believe most, if not all, residents in the danger zone had left but they were knocking on doors one more time before releasing the vinyl chloride inside the cars, he said.

"You need to leave, you just need to leave. This is a matter of life and death," DeWine said at a press conference.

Officials warned the controlled burn would send phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the air. Phosgene is a highly toxic gas that can cause vomiting and breathing trouble and was used as a weapon in World War I.

Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railway said doing this during the daytime would allow the fumes to disperse more quickly and prevent the rail cars from exploding and sending shrapnel and other debris from flying through the neighborhood.

"We can't control where that goes," said Deutsch, who estimated the release would take from one to three hours.

The process involves using a small charge to blow a hole in the cars, allowing the material to go into a trench and burning it off before it's released in the air, he said. The crews handling the controlled release have done this safely before, Deutsch said.

The site is very close to the state line, and the evacuation area extends into a sparsely populated area of Pennsylvania. About half of the 4,800 residents in East Palestine had been warned to leave over the weekend before officials decided on Monday to use the controlled release.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said the evacuation zone includes about 20 Pennsylvania residences. Pennsylvania State Police went door-to-door to assist the last remaining residents and ensure they leave.

"This is very serious," he said. "I want you to know that if I were there right now, if the First Lady and our children were there right now, we would evacuate. We would leave this area. It is potentially too dangerous."

Forced evacuations began Sunday night in the village of East Palestine after authorities became alarmed that the rail cars could explode after a "drastic temperature change" was observed in a rail car.

Residents were packing overnight bags, loading their pets into cars and searching for hotel rooms Monday morning. Police in the village moved out of their communication center as the threat of an explosion increased.

Police cars, snow plows and military vehicles from the Ohio National Guard blocked streets leading into the area.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash Friday night, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board. No injuries to crew, residents or first responders were reported.

Five were transporting vinyl chloride, which is used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin in plastic products and is associated with increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government's National Cancer Institute

Federal investigators say the cause of the derailment was a mechanical issue with a rail car axle.

By The Associated Press

Map illustrating 'grave danger' zone released

This is the map authorities have put out of the immediate evacuation zone surrounding the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Within the red area, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said people are "in grave danger of death" from the shrapnel and toxic fumes. In the yellow area, people living there face severe injury including skin burns and lung damage. 

(Image Provided)

For more information, click here.

By Heather Lang

Beaver County Emergency Services opens Public Inquiry phone line

With the controlled release of hazardous materials from the site of the train derailment getting underway at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Beaver County Emergency Services wants to be available to answer questions from the public. 

They have opened a public inquiry phone line in order to do so. The number is 724-773-6767.

Beaver County Residents: The updated evacuation radius is 1 mile from the crash site. If you needed to evacuate, you...

Posted by Beaver County Emergency Services on Monday, February 6, 2023

South Beaver Township is also providing public updates on their Facebook page.

At this time the evacuation notice for the train derailment is still only in the localized 1 mi area around taggart...

Posted by South Beaver Township on Monday, February 6, 2023
By Heather Lang

East Palestine resident: 'I just want to be back home'

Hundreds of residents cannot go home as concerns grow over a potential explosion at the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio.

"I literally grabbed my wife and said, 'We're leaving!' And so, I had no intention of coming here. We fed our cats, we were worried about them, but we came here immediately, immediately because this stuff is serious," said Roger Walker, an East Palestine, resident.

Click here to read the full story.

East Palestine residents shaken by train derailment evacuation order, 'I just want to be back home' 03:32
By Heather Lang

East Palestine City School District closes school through Feb. 10

According to the East Palestine City School District Facebook page, school will be cancelled through Friday, Feb. 10, due to the state of emergency in the city. 

Due to the state of emergency in the city, East Palestine City School District will be closed for the remainder of this...

Posted by East Palestine City School District on Monday, February 6, 2023
By Jonathan Fisher

Darlington Township residents ordered out

Beaver County commissioners have ordered about 20 households in Darlington Township out of their homes.

People living there are in the immediate evacuation zone area, officials said. They face "grave danger" if they stay while Norfolk Southern officials perform a controlled release of material from unstable train cars. 

Law enforcement are going door-to-door once again in the township to make sure residents are out - including on East Palestine Road and Taggart Road, the commissioners said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro is working with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine while the situation is ongoing.

Gov. Shapiro is thanking first responders and law enforcement.

"Your are literally saving lives with your important work," he said.

Watch Gov. Shapiro's news conference here:

By Heather Lang

Norfolk Southern will do controlled release of material from derailed cars

Norfolk Southern officials are planning a controlled release of material from the derailed train cars in East Palestine, Ohio. There are five rail cars that are unstable at the derailment site, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.

They are trying to reduce the risk of an explosion.

Gov. Mike DeWine issues warning for those in area of East Palestine train derailment 02:42

To do so, Norfolk Southern officials say they will place a small charge within the tank car by way of a 2-3 inch hole. They have dug trenches around the site where the material will drain. In the trench, flares will help to burn off the material, officials said.

The burn could take from 1-3 hours, Norfolk Southern officials said. They said the safest way to do this is to control the situation.

Because of this controlled release, law enforcement are going within the one-mile by two-mile evacuation area to make sure everyone is out, Gov. DeWine said.

"It's a very, very serious thing," Gov. DeWine said.

About 100 people left the area overnight.

They are now ordering people out and have a map showing the "grave danger" posed to people in the area. Within the red area, Gov. DeWine said people are "in grave danger of death" from the shrapnel and toxic fumes.

In the yellow area, people living there face severe injury including skin burns and lung damage. 

The map shows the "immediate evacuation one-mile by two-mile area" zone that includes by Ohio and Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

Gov. DeWine said the Ohio National Guard, U.S. Department of Defense and the manufacturer of the product are working together. Norfolk Southern Railroad released a statement that reads in part:

"In coordination among all agencies and stakeholders, we have put together a plan to manually vent the cars. The contents will be drained in a controlled fashion. To protect the environment, we have prepared pits and embankments to drain the material into which will then be remediated.  

"When it is safe to do so, the manual release of the pressure will be via a controlled breach of several rail cars, and under the supervision of experts and first responders. This will be loud and visible. Some of the material will burn off as it drains for a short number of hours. We have been and will continue monitoring air quality with Ohio EPA. Afterward, cleanup work on the site can safely continue."

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro issues update on East Palestine train derailment 05:01
By Heather Lang

Map shows evacuation zone

The one-mile radius evacuation zone extends over the border into Beaver County, Pennsylvania. This map illustrates the zone.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)
By Heather Lang

24-hour evacuation shelter at East Palestine High School fills up after urgent evacuation

KDKA's Jessica Guay reports that 21 people who live within the evacuation zone spent the night at the Red Cross's 24-hour evacuation shelter at East Palestine High School.

Some residents have been there since Friday night after the fiery train derailment.  

An urgent evacuation alert went out Sunday night for people living within a one-mile radius of the train wreck.

By Heather Lang

Norfolk Southern moves Family Assistance Center in

Norfolk Southern has announced that they are moving the Family Assistance Center they have set up outside of the train derailment site.

The new location will provide easier access for the community due to the numerous road closures in the area, Norfolk Southern officials said. 

The new Family Assistance Center is located at Abundant Life Fellowship Church, 46469 OH-46, New Waterford, OH 44445. It reopens at noon Monday, Feb. 6.

By Heather Lang

Beaver County animal rescue forced to evacuate

The Northern Border, LLC, animal rescue in Darlington, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, has been forced to evacuate due to the "catastrophic" danger posed by the potential for an explosion.

The rescue has posted to their Facebook page that they have moved as many of their dogs as possible to safety.

Their message to the public said: "Unfortunately, we are unable to take any more fire evacuation dogs at this time. We have quite a few already, and we are now being evacuated ourselves. ... We will do our absolute best to keep the dogs in our care safe during this time. An evacuation protocol is in place, and we will keep you all updated!"

By Heather Lang

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine visits train derailment site command center

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has arrived by helicopter at the train derailment command center at East Palestine Elementary School.

The one-mile radius mandatory evacuation is still in place because of Friday's train derailment that's creating problems and concerns of potential explosion.

KDKA Reporter Jessica Guay spotted Gov. DeWine's helicopter touching down.

By Heather Lang

PennDOT closes Beaver County roads due to derailment

On Monday morning, PennDOT announced the closure of several roads in Beaver County due to the train derailment in East Palestine, just across the border in Ohio.

Here is the list from PennDOT:

  • Route 51 between Route 168 and Ohio
  • Anderson Road at Route 51
  • Little Beaver Road at Route 51
  • Taggert Road at Route 51
  • Valley Road at Taggert Road
  • Logtown Road at Route 51
  • Enon Road at Route 51
  • East Palestine Road at Route 51
  • Darlington Road at Route 51
  • Oakdale Road at Route 51
  • Agnew Drive at Route 51
  • Cannellton Road at Route 51
  • Route 168 – All traffic will take northbound Route 168

Posted Detour for Northbound Route 51

  • From northbound Route 51, turn right onto Route 168
  • Turn left onto Route 551
  • Bear left onto Route 351
  • Follow Route 351 into Ohio (Route 617)
  • Turn left onto Route 170 in Ohio
  • Follow Route 170 back to Route 14
  • End detour
By Heather Lang

Small explosion at crash site caught on video

Early Monday morning, a small explosion was caught on video as crews continued to work to put out the burning rail cars.


Train derailment lights up night sky over East Palestine, Ohio, on Friday night

The derailment started a massive fire with orange flames lighting up the sky in the village of East Palestine with a population of 4,800 to 4,900 people. It is near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

First responders from nearly 70 emergency agencies from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania quickly mobilized.

Click below for our continuing coverage.

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