Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

National Guard called in to assist in aftermath of Ohio train derailment

The National Guard is expected to assist officials currently on the ground who have already shut down a number of roads

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine activated the state’s National Guard to respond to the village of East Palestine on Monday, as residents had to evacuate following a train derailment that caused concerns of a possible explosion.

The crash involved about 50 train cars. Officials warned people who live nearby to evacuate due to concern that one rail car could potentially explode and send shrapnel flying for a mile in all directions.

DeWine’s office said in a statement that there was “the potential of a catastrophic tanker failure” following a “drastic temperature change” in that car. The governor’s office said the National Guard will be helping state and local authorities with the evacuation effort.

It is unknown what the specific car contained, but officials said Sunday that some cars involved in the crash were carrying butyl acrylate and residue of benzene, which are combustible. The National Transportation Safety Board said 10 of the cars that derailed contained hazardous materials, with five of them carrying vinyl chloride. It is unknown if any vinyl chloride – which has been linked to elevated cancer risks – got out.

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed Friday night in East Palestine, Ohio, are still on fire at midday Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed Friday night in East Palestine, Ohio, are still on fire at midday Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (The Associated Press)

Village officials assured that those living near the crash site that the degree of any exposure to the substances involved as a result of the crash would likely not be sufficient to cause harm.

“Short-term exposure to low levels of substances associated with the derailment does not present a long-term health risk to residents,” according to a “Frequently Asked Questions” post on the village Facebook page. “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.”

 

In this photo provided by Melissa Smith, a train fire is seen from her farm in East Palestine, Ohio, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (Melissa Smith via AP)

Officials have already shut down roads, schools and businesses in the area, and the evacuation order covered 1,500 to 2,000 out of about 4,900 residents. Environmental protection agency crews were working to remove contaminants from streams and to monitor water quality.

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed Friday night in East Palestine, Ohio are still on fire at midday Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (The Associated Press)