Urgent evacuation notice issued for East Palestine residents; explosion possible

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East Palestine officials and the Columbiana County EMA Director have issued an urgent evacuation notice to those who live within a mile radius of the train derailment.

The urgent evacuation comes after a drastic temperature change in a rail car. Due to the change of temperature, officials say there is potential for a catastrophic tanker failure that could cause an explosion and send deadly shrapnel up to a mile.

Out of the town’s roughly 4,700 residents, nearly 2,000 have been asked to evacuate within the one-mile radius of the derailment. As of 9 p.m., more than 500 people have refused to leave their homes that are within the evacuation radius.

Those who have the means to leave are advised to immediately evacuate. Those who need help evacuating the area should call 330-426-4341. According to the Columbiana County Sheriff, those with children in their homes who decline to evacuate may be subject to arrest.

One person was arrested Saturday night for “misconduct at an emergency” after they disregarded police barriers and got right up to the scene of the derailment.

“You’re endangering our police and fire by them having to come and tell you to stay away,” Mayor Trent Conaway said. “There’s nothing to see. There’s plenty of pictures on social media. That’s as good as it’s going to get.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has activated the Ohio National Guard to deploy to the scene to assist local authorities.

Conaway noted he’s been in contact with East Palestine City Schools and they will be closed Monday as crews continue to work the scene. The city building will also be closed on Monday.

Members with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were present at the Sunday afternoon press conference and reiterated that there is currently no health risks to the community, despite the awful smell due to the chemical vinyl chloride and other chemicals that continues to burn in the train cars.