Residents of the nearby area were evacuated prior to the controlled release into the air, due to the risk of explosion in five tank cars carrying dangerous chemicals.
After the derailment of a train in the town of East Palestine (Ohio, USA), last Friday, the experts began this Monday to release toxic chemicals into the air from five tank cars that were overturned, reports the Associated Press.
Scott Deutsch, from the Norfolk Southern Railway company, explained that the release process follows the following procedure: a small explosive charge is used to make a hole in the carriage, through which the substance is released into a ditch where it is burned. and the residue is released into the air. In addition, he said, the works are carried out during daylight hours so that the smoke from the incineration can disperse more quickly. Thus, he stated, the entire process takes between one and three hours. During controlled combustion hydrogen chloride and phosgene are released into the airwhich is a toxic gas used as a weapon in World War I.
Due to the risk of explosion and the presence of dangerous substances in the air, the authorities evacuated local residents. Thus, they sent warnings to about half of East Palestine’s 4,800 residents to leave the city before toxic substances began to be released from the train. Forced evacuations were already given on Sunday, due to the high risk of explosion in one of the wagons due to the “drastic change in temperature.”
The site of the train accident is near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The evacuations in Ohio began last Friday and most of the residents of the danger zone left there. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine declared that the residents had to leave, as they were “a matter of life and death“.
His Pennsylvania counterpart, Gov. Josh Shapiro, endorsed DeWine. He asserted that the problem “is very serious” and that if he and his family were in that “potentially too dangerous” zoneThey would run away immediately. Shapiro added that the residents of 20 homes were evacuated in his state.
Meanwhile, authorities are still investigating the incident. Federal investigators claim that the accident was due to a mechanical failure in the axle of one of the wagonswhich are yet to be specified.