Authorities in Ohio have announced plans to release toxic chemicals from five cars of a derailed train as a way to reduce the threat of an explosion, WTAE reports.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says a "controlled release" of vinyl chloride is scheduled to take place at 3:30 pm, and that residents have been asked to evacuate the area due to the risk of death or serious injury.
"We are ordering you to leave. This is a matter of life or death," said DeWine during a press conference, stating that anyone remaining in the area would be in "grave danger" from inhalation of fumes. According to Fox News, the National Guard has been deployed to assist with evacuation efforts.
Police officers and others went door to door Sunday night and into Monday telling residents to leave. Authorities believe most, if not all, those who were instructed to leave have done so.
Scott Deutsch, of Norfolk Southern Railway, told WTAE that a controlled release during the daytime will allow the fumes to disperse more quickly, preventing the rail cars from exploding and sending dangerous shrapnel and debris flying through the residential area.
"We can’t control where that goes," Deutsch said.
He estimated the controlled release would take from one to three hours.
As the derailment site is very close to the state line, Pennsylvania residents are also being evacuated.
According to WTAE, around 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a crash Friday night. No injuries have been reported.
Norfolk Southern said five of the cars were transporting vinyl chloride, which is used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin in plastic products. The chemical is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute."Anyone who refuses to leave the evacuation zone could be arrested on a misdemeanor charge of misconduct in an emergency," Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin posted on Facebook. If there are children in a household that doesn’t evacuate, "further charges of endangering children will apply also."
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