Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered residents of the village of East Palestine to evacuate their homes and businesses Monday, after a freight train crash spread smoke and toxic chemicals into the community 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Gov. Mike DeWine: “You need to leave. You just need to leave. We are ordering you to leave. This is a matter of life and death.”
On Friday evening, a freight train derailment triggered a massive fire that engulfed the surrounding area in smoke and threatened to cause a major explosion. The wreckage contained poisonous chemicals including phosgene, hydrogen chloride and vinyl chloride. On Monday, the train’s operator, Norfolk Southern, said it carried out a controlled release of the chemicals into the air. Some residents of East Palestine who packed into emergency shelters said they will be reluctant to return to their homes.
Jami Cozza: “The creek by my house had a very, very strong chemical smell to it. I went in my house. It was worse. I gathered clothes up and left. When I left, the clothes stunk so bad, even the ones that were in my dryer, that I had to wash them at the hotel. My laptop for work stunk like chemicals. There’s definitely something going on with the water, and I don’t even know that I want to go back when they lift the evacuation.”
The accident brought renewed attention to so-called bomb trains transporting crude oil and other dangerous chemicals through communities across the United States.