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On the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the train derailed: there is a danger of explosion and poisoning, the evacuation of the population continues

A mechanical problem with the car axle caused the train to derail at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. This raised fears of a potential explosion and environmental pollution. FoxNews.

Photo: IStock

Officials in northeast Ohio are urging people who have not yet evacuated the area to do so now.

Residents were warned of "the potential for catastrophic damage to a tank car" after a "drastic change in temperature" was detected in a railroad car, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's office said in a statement. The teams worked to prevent the explosion.

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Everyone within a 1,6 km radius of the incident was advised to leave the scene immediately. Many have already fled the area, but local officials said more than 500 residents chose to stay put as of the evening of Feb. 5.

Federal investigators announced earlier on Feb. 5 that a mechanical problem with a railcar axle caused the derailment on Feb. 3 in the evening near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham said at a press conference that the three-man train crew received a warning of a mechanical problem shortly before the derailment and that the board was still working to determine which car was at fault.

Nearly 50 wagons derailed in East Palestine as the train was carrying cargo from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern. No injuries were reported.

Graham said investigators pinpointed the "derailment point". He said the information would be included in a preliminary investigation report to be released around the next month.

Local authorities said emergency services were monitoring the situation but keeping their distance from the fire, and that restoration work could not begin while the train cars were smoldering.

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East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said one man was arrested for bypassing barricades and approaching a train. He warned of more arrests if people did not stay away from the scene.

“I don’t know why anyone would want to be there. You breathe poisonous fumes if you are that close,” he said, stressing that air quality monitoring far from the fire showed nothing dangerous, and that city water is safe because it uses groundwater that is not affected by certain substances in streams.

EPA teams worked to remove contaminants from streams and control water quality.

On February 5, sheriffs counted the remaining residents and urged people in the evacuation zone to leave. Schools and offices will be closed. Businesses in the evacuation zone on February 6 are not allowed to open.

Transportation company Norfolk Southern said 20 of the train's more than 100 cars were classified as carrying hazardous materials. The company said that only 10 wagons loaded with hazardous materials derailed, and five of them were carrying vinyl chloride. Officials said late on February 4 that no vinyl chloride had been released outside the pressure relief devices.

According to the federal government's National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride, used to make polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin in a number of plastic products, is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

"Short-term exposure to low levels of substances associated with the crash poses no long-term health risk to residents," the community's Facebook page said in a post. – Vinyl chloride and benzene can cause cancer in people who have been exposed to high concentrations in the workplace for many years. However, there is no indication that any potential post-derailment exposure increases the risk of cancer or any other long-term health effects for members of the community."

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Officials said on Feb. 5 afternoon that the wagons that derailed were also carrying flammable liquids, butyl acrylate and benzene residues from previous deliveries. They also said the train was carrying non-hazardous materials such as wheat, plastic pellets, malt solutions and lubricating oil.

The evacuation order included between 1500 and 2000 of the city's 4800-4900 residents. Most residents left for special shelters closer to February 5th.

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