Evacuation order lifted for residents near East Palestine train derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The evacuation order issued to East Palestine and some Beaver County residents due to the train derailment has been lifted.

Residents within a one-mile radius of the train derailment site, including some in Darlington Township, were told to leave their homes Sunday after the temperature dropped in one of the rail cars, putting it at risk for an explosion.

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The news is good for many, but not everyone is anxious to return.

“We’re not gong home tonight,” said Jillian Zuch, a resident concerned about the air and water in her home. “Probably not drinking water for awhile and not going home until we can get some tests done at our house.”

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Not everyone 11 News feels that way. William Hugar was happy to head home to see his two cats he left behind.

“A lot of people are...they get scared too easy. I don’t think there’s going to be any problems,” Hugar said.

Zook, however, is not the only one asking for testing.

In nearby Negley, Ohio, a sign reads “Norfolk Southern poisoned our water way. Demand your well be tested!”

Officials with Norfolk Southern say testing will be made available for both wells and air in homes.

“We’re right beside the creek. We can smell the chemicals. It’s bad,” Chase Ammon said. He lives between East Palestine and Negley. He told Channel 11 he plans on taking advantage of the well testing.

“We are on the low end of the creek on the waterbed. It’s of high concern because there’s all kind of fish dead,” Ammon said.

Our Channel 11 cameras captured video of dead fish in a local creek. A representative from the Ohio EPA said today they are aware of the dead fish but people shouldn’t worry.

“All the information and data to date is that it’s still been protective of the drinking water,” Ohio EPA Representative Kurt Koller said.

The Norfolk Southern resource center will be open for the foreseeable future. Anyone with questions or who wants to order testing can do it there or call 234-542-6472.

The resource center will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s located at 46469 State Route 46 in New Waterford, OH.

The National Guard has been taking air and ground samples to ensure the area is safe. The latest statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said that “thus far, no concerning readings have been detected.”

Those air quality results proved consistent and showed multiple readings at points below concerning contamination levels, leading officials to decide the area was safe for residents to return to.

The Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency shared a safe re-entry plan with the public. That plan can be viewed below.

Safety officials will continue to monitor the area and are offering air quality readings to people who would like them done within their homes. Norfolk Southern Railroad is paying for a contractor to work with police, members of EPA and state officials to hold the tests.

Anyone who lives within a mile radius of the train derailment site can call 330-849-3919 to receive a test.

Free water tests will also be available for anyone with a private well, including all of the private wells in Pennsylvania. Until the tests are done, people with private wells are asked to use bottled water.

Anyone who is uncomfortable going back to their home can contact the railroad assistance center at 800-230-7049 to ask about hotel assistance.

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