Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Huge train derailment causes big fire, evacuation­s in Ohio


EAST PALESTINE, OHIO >> A freight train derailment in Ohio near the Pennsylvan­ia state line left a mangled and charred mass of boxcars and flames Saturday as authoritie­s launched a federal investigat­ion and monitored air quality from the various hazardous chemicals in the train.

About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine at about 9 p.m. EST Friday as a train was carrying a variety of products from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvan­ia, rail operator Norfolk Southern said Saturday. There was no immediate informatio­n about what caused the derailment. No injuries or damage to structures were reported.

“The post-derailment fire spanned about the length of the derailed train cars,” Michael Graham, a member of the National Transporta­tion Safety Board, told reporters Saturday evening. “The fire has since reduced in intensity, but remains active and the two main tracks are still blocked.”

Norfolk Southern said 20 of the more than 100 cars were classified as carrying hazardous materials — defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger “including flammables, combustibl­es, or environmen­tal risks.” Graham said 14 cars carrying vinyl chloride were involved in the derailment “and have been exposed to fire,” and at least one “is intermitte­ntly releasing the contents of the car through a pressure release device as designed.”

“At this time we are working to verify which hazardous materials cars, if any, have been breached,” he said. The Environmen­tal Protection Agency and Norfolk Southern were continuing to monitor air quality, and investigat­ors would begin their onscene work “once the scene is safe and secure,” he said.

Vinyl chloride, used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin used in a variety of plastic products, is associated with increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute.

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