Cars have since been cleared from the rails in East Palestine and trains are running again as the evacuation order for East Palestine residents has been lifted, officials made the announcement during a press conference shortly after 5 pm yesterday with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and residents are starting to return. The Columbiana County EMA posted a safe reentry plan on its website for those returning home. Officials are still urging people to avoid the railway itself. There are still some road closures in the area.
According to the EPA, air quality samples in the area of the wreckage in East Palestine and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern. It was that information, state and local health officials determined that it is safe for community members to return to their homes.
For East Palestine residents who would like an air test done on their home before they reenter, they can call 330-849-3919. For any questions or concerns, call 234-542-6474.
Kurt Kollar, of the Ohio EPA, said some contaminants did make their way into the water, having an impact on fish in the area. He said actions were taken to minimize that, and all of the data that they’ve collected shows that drinking water is safe. Free testing of water from private wells in the impacted area will also be offered by Norfolk Southern.
Officials in at least one community that draws its drinking water from the Ohio River have confirmed that the Ohio EPA is taking samples at intakes along the river that serves its water treatment plant to determine whether vinyl chloride and other chemicals are present. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says the Norfolk Southern train that derailed Friday in East Palestine did lead to a chemical leak into the Ohio River, and that officials in Weirton had switched to an alternate water supply to keep the community safe.
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