LATEST: Some residents return to East Palestine after train derailment, others hesitant to go back

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — It’s been six days since a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in the village with a population of 4,700.

PHOTOS: Massive explosion at start of controlled release of chemicals at train derailment

>>>>Vinyl chloride: What we know about the toxic chemical released at East Palestine train derailment

UPDATE 2/9/23 11:10 p.m.

Some residents are returning to East Palestine after the derailment, while others are hesitant to go back.

“Just waiting for my air to be tested inside my shop,” Joy Mascher said. She owns a flower shop in town and has been closed since Saturday. This close to Valentine’s Day, she says she’s lost thousands of dollars in business.

Mascher is one of hundreds of people waiting on air tests. As of today, officials report 300 people had applied. She and hundreds of others also applied for reimbursement for expenses and lost wages.

“They said they were mainly dealing with residents that had been displaced and the businesses would all come later. I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” she said.

Meanwhile, the fire department is dealing with a potentially significant loss of equipment. Much of it was contaminated fighting the initial fire when the train derailed.

“We are in a very arduous process right now trying to decide what equipment we have left that we can still use,” Fire Chief Keith Drabick said.

Train traffic is back. Norfolk Southern restarted traffic minutes after officials lifted the evacuation order Wednesday.

“Anybody who was at incident command last night could tell I was not very happy with that,” Mayor Trent Conaway said. He had expected the company to wait for residents to return home first.

Traffic of a different kind is also being addressed. Officials told Channel 11 that street sweepers will be used to pick up debris left by trucks going in and out of the derailment site.

“This isn’t going to get swept under the rug. I’m not going to be some country bumpkin. We’re going to hold their feet to the fire. They are going to do what they say they are going to do and protect the people of this town,” Conaway said.

The mayor also warned residents of companies coming in from out of town looking to capitalize on what happened. He’s urging them to do their homework.

East Palestine schools remain closed until further notice.

Important contact information:

Norfolk Southern Family Assistance: 1-800-230-7049

Home Air Screening: 330-849-3913

Ohio EPA: 614-644-2160

U.S. EPA: epaosc.org

CTEH Technology: 234-542-6474

Columbiana County Extension: 330-967-7249

Community Action Agency: 330-424-4013

UPDATE 2/8/23 5:20 p.m.

The evacuation order in place for residents near the train derailment site has been lifted.

DETAILS >>> Evacuation order lifted for East Palestine, some Beaver County residents after train derailment

Residents who would like to air test their homes before reentering are asked to call 234-542-6474.

An assistance center will help neighbors and businesses with lost wages.

UPDATE 2/8/23 4 p.m.

The press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine has not started yet. We’re told he is still being briefed.

UPDATE 2/8/23 3 p.m.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection provided the following statement:

“Environmental, health and safety officials from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and multiple federal agencies are working together to continually monitor air quality in the region. Thus far, no concerning readings have been detected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing data based on the readings received from a number of testing locations, pre- and post-controlled burn.”

All of that data is available here on the EPA’s website: https://response.epa.gov/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=15933

UPDATE 2/8/23 2:20 p.m.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. with a major update for folks in the train derailment evacuation zone.

UPDATE 2/7/23 9:00 p.m.

Results from the samples taken by the National Guard will be reviewed overnight. During a press conference, Peggy Clark with Columbiana County said they hoped to have good news by tomorrow morning.

“What we were doing was to supplement the air monitoring that the EPA and we are already doing was to do that inside the homes as well, so we can verify if any of the chemicals that we are looking for in relation to the train derailment see if they’re inside the homes and see if the homes are safe to reoccupy,” said Maj. Jeff Jones, with the Ohio National Guard.

There is one car that still needs to be removed from the rail, according to Norfolk Southern. The rest have been moved out of the way so the track can be installed.

Next, crews will work to transfer loads from tank cars that are left. Those cars will be on site until they are reviewed by NTSB.

The EPA said there have been few detections of the chemicals in the air. The detections that have been reported were “very low.”

During a press conference, the EPA said they will make it optional for residents to do detection readings inside their homes.

The National Guard will continue to assist by going into exclusion zones to supplement air monitoring and doing that in homes to see if they are safe to reoccupy.

UPDATE 2/7/23 5:00 p.m.:

Exclusive video shows the National Guard in HAZMAT gear to go into the evacuation zone.

The National Guard collected air and ground samples to hand off to the EPA.

Roughly 20 families in Darlington Township are out of their homes. Some are with family, others are in hotels.

“We’re still under the evacuation order. The roads are still closed. We’re working with local fire departments and the state to get those folks back into their residence,” said Eric Brewer, Director of Beaver County Emergency Services.

UPDATE 2/7/23 2:20 p.m.:

PEMA Director Randy Padfield released the following update on the East Palestine train derailment:

“The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency continues to closely monitor the situation in Eastern Ohio and its effects on Southwestern Pennsylvania. As continues to be the case, no concerning air quality readings have been detected. For now, out of an abundance of caution, Pennsylvanians who were evacuated from their homes should continue to stay away from the site. We know how difficult it is to leave your home and thank Pennsylvanians for their continued cooperation. We are working with working with Norfolk Southern and our partners in Ohio to get people back in their homes as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Pennsylvanians who live within 2 miles of East Palestine where this derailment occurred should continue to shelter in place and keep their windows and doors closed. Pennsylvanians’ health and safety are our top priority. We will continue to update the public as information becomes available.”

UPDATE 2/7/23 1 p.m.:

Authorities from the East Palestine incident said that there were no significant injuries during the planned detonation Tuesday.

Four out of the five vinyl chloride cars have been removed and are being investigated by the NTSB.

Officials in Ohio said that the evacuation order remains in effect and that they will be increasing air quality monitoring.

UPDATE 2/7/23 12:43:

Specific water and air quality questions in Pennsylvania regarding the train derailment can be directed to the Pennsylvania DEP at 412-442-4000.

UPDATE 2/7/23 11 a.m.:

The Ohio State Highway Patrol will be providing an update at 1 p.m.

UPDATE 2/7/23 9:30 a.m.:

UPDATE 2/7/23 6:40 a.m.:

UPDATE 2/7/23 6:30 a.m.:

Those within a two-mile radius are still being asked to shelter in place as air sampling around the chemical release didn’t reveal any reportable level of contaminates.

A Channel 11 crew said that there is a heavy chemical smell in the air this morning, much like they experienced Saturday, the day after the train derailed. We’re talking to residents in the area who are concerned about the possible lasting health impacts.

UPDATE 2/7/23 6:18 a.m.:

UPDATE 2/6/23 11 p.m.:

According to Peggy Clark with Columbiana County Emergency Management in Ohio, everything went according to plan. The chemicals were released from five cars. The air around the evacuation zone is being monitored.

Clark said there is no need to expand the evacuation zone at this time.

Additional updates will follow on Tuesday morning.

UPDATE 2/6/23 8:05 p.m.:

During his update, Gov. Shapiro said everyone in a two-mile radius of the train derailment scene is being asked to shelter in place.

Shapiro noted the EPA and DEP are monitoring air and water quality. No concerning readings have been detected.

Shapiro said he spoke to President Biden in the last hour regarding the situation. He said that Biden offered full support of the federal government to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Shapiro administration will continue to monitor the situation throughout the night and will communicate any changes needed.

UPDATE 2/6/23 7:20 p.m.:

Gov. Shapiro is set to give an update on the train derailment situation at 7:45 p.m.

UPDATE 2/6/23 5:30 p.m.:

Photos below from our crew nearby show the aftermath of the explosion.

UPDATE 2/6/23 4:45 p.m.:

An explosion happened at the scene of the train derailment. This was a controlled explosion as officials released toxic gas from one of the cars. In the video below, you can see a fireball shooting into the sky followed by dark black smoke.

UPDATE 2/6/23 4:30 p.m.:

Beaver County Emergency services said a public inquiry phone line has been opened at 724-773-6767.

UPDATE 2/6/23 3:35 p.m.:

Beaver County Emergency Services tweeted to inform residents that the impacted area is a small portion of Darlington Township. Any residents who needed to evacuate would have been notified.

UPDATE 2/6/23 3:20 p.m.:

In a press briefing Monday afternoon, Gov. Shapiro said that 10 of the 22 affected Pennsylvania residents had not yet evacuated as of Sunday evening.

Shapiro said the controlled release had the potential to be deadly.

“Following new modeling information conducted this morning and discussed at length between myself, Governor DeWine, and our respective teams, I am strongly, strongly encouraging an evacuation in a one-mile by two-mile area surrounding East Palestine that includes parts of both Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro also said residents in the broader area of the evacuation map should exercise caution and follow instructions of local emergency personnel.

UPDATE 2/6/23 2:45 p.m.:

Gov. Shapiro said Pennsylvania officials will continue to monitor the situation closely with those in Ohio. Anyone in a one mile by two mile radius has been urged to evacuate ahead of the controlled chemical release.

UPDATE 2/6/23 2:10 p.m.

Gov. Shapiro and Gov. DeWine are asking residents in a one mile radius of East Palestine to evacuate immediately. The evacuation zone covers 22 Pennsylvania residents. Shapiro said many of those residents have already evacuated.

Beaver County Emergency Services has bene directing anyone with evacuation questions to call 330-457-0733.

Shapiro said anyone in the area who needs assistance evacuating can call State Police Beaver at 724-773-7400.

UPDATE 2/6/23 1:50 p.m.

Scott Deutsch of Norfolk Southern Railway said the planned, controlled release of toxic chemicals during the daytime will allow the fumes to disperse more quickly and prevent the rail cars from exploding and sending shrapnel and other debris from flying through the neighborhood.

He estimated the process would take from one to three hours, the Associated Press reports.

UPDATE 2/6/23 1:19 p.m.

Twenty homes in Darlington Township are being evacuated, according to Beaver County Commissioner Daniel Camp.

>>>Click here for photos from the ground and in the air<<<

UPDATE 2/6/23 12:50 p.m.

Ohio Gov. DeWine said there is a concern about a “catastrophic explosion” with one or more rail cars. He’s in touch with Gov. Shapiro.

Both DeWine and Shapiro have decided on a 3:30 p.m. controlled chemical release. Everyone in a risk zone on the map below is ordered out.

Officials said the radius for this controlled release could widen if weather changes including wind patterns and precipitation.

UPDATE 2/6/23 12:34 p.m.:

The Blackhawk School District in Beaver Falls and the Western Beaver School District in Midland will have an early dismissal Monday. The districts said government agencies are requested the early dismissal due to the train derailment. More information from both districts can be found below:

From Western Beaver:


Due to the ongoing situation in East Palestine, Ohio, government agencies are requesting that Western Beaver School District transitions to an early dismissal today, Monday, February 6. Jr/Sr High School will dismiss at 12 noon, and Fairview will dismiss at 12:45. All drop-off times will adhere to a normal early release schedule.

All after school activities are cancelled for today. Please do not contact building offices unless it is an emergency.

Further updates will be available later this evening.

UPDATE 2/6/23 12:00 p.m.:

Due to road closures around the train derailment, the Family Assistance Center has been moved to:

Abundant Life Fellowship Church, 46469 OH-46, New Waterford, OH 44445.

UPDATE 2/6/23 11:26 a.m.:

The NTSB published a video of drone footage over the train derailment in East Palestine. Click below to watch the full video:

UPDATE 2/6/23 9:48 a.m.:

The village of East Palestine put out a statement saying that the one-mile evacuation zone remains in place. Read the full statement below:

UPDATE 2/6/23 8:40 a.m.

Due to the train derailment in Ohio, the following roadways will be closed until further notice, according to PennDOT:

  • Route 51 between Route 168 and Ohio
  • Anderson Road at Route 51
  • Little Beaver Road at Route 51
  • Taggert Road at Route 51
  • Valley Road at Taggert Road
  • Logtown Road at Route 51
  • Enon Road at Route 51
  • East Palestine Road at Route 51
  • Darlington Road at Route 51
  • Oakdale Road at Route 51
  • Agnew Drive at Route 51
  • Cannellton Road at Route 51
  • Route 168 – All traffic will take northbound Route 168

Posted Detour for Northbound Route 51

  • From northbound Route 51, turn right onto Route 168
  • Turn left onto Route 551
  • Bear left onto Route 351
  • Follow Route 351 into Ohio (Route 617)
  • Turn left onto Route 170 in Ohio
  • Follow Route 170 back to Route 14
  • End detour

UPDATE 2/6/23 5:52 a.m.

Police are going door to door this morning, making sure people are following an evacuation order put in place Sunday night.

Anyone living within a mile of the train derailment must evacuate, as officials fear an explosion.

UPDATE 2/5/23:

The governor of Ohio and Columbiana County officials have issued an urgent evacuation warning to anyone living within a mile of the train derailment site in East Palestine due to the possibility of an explosion.

Governor DeWine and other officials say a temperature change has taken place in a rail car containing vinyl chloride and there is now the potential of a “catastrophic tanker failure,” which could result in an explosion that would be capable of launching shrapnel within a mile of the derailment site.

Local officials say more than 500 people are still living within a mile of the derailment site and they are asking them to leave immediately.

Members of the Columbiana County Sheriff’s office say anyone with children who stays within the area could be arrested.

“There could be possible charges if you choose to stay,” said authorities. “Misconduct in an emergency or if you have children in your house is child-endangering and that will be enforced.”

Officials say if a catastrophic failure occurs it will produce hydrogen chloride gas into the atmosphere.

The National Guard was sent to the scene with several local agencies at around 8 p.m. Officials say they are working to prevent the explosion from happening.

Anyone who needs help evacuating is asked to call 330-426-4341.


Fire is still burning in East Palestine, Ohio, after 50 cars derailed Friday evening. The village is located on the state border with Beaver County.

According to our news affiliates at WFMJ, initial calls came out just after 9 p.m. to the area of East Taggart Street along the railroad tracks Friday night.

Multiple photos submitted by viewers show huge flames and smoke billowing from the area.

Beaver County 911 said a shelter-in-place order is in place for residents of Darlington Township. The was still in place as of Sunday evening.

According to the NTSB, 20 cars contained hazardous material.

“Four tank cars carrying vinyl chloride were involved in the derailment and have been exposed to fire. At least one vinyl chloride car is intermittently releasing the contents of the car through a pressure relief device as designed,” a representative from the NTSB said.

Right now, officials are letting it burn. They say that’s the safest way to handle the situation. It’s unclear if any of the chemicals are on fire. Investigators haven’t been able to get close enough to check it out for themselves.

The train was traveling from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania.

Fire departments from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were all called to assist.

Despite a strong and sometimes overwhelming smell, local officials say the EPA and Norfolk Southern are monitoring the air and say there are no health risks from chemicals so far.

Norfolk Southern released a document providing answers to a series of frequently asked questions about safety from people who live in the area. That document can be read below.

It’s unclear when people will be allowed back into their homes.

“We have to work with the EPA, work with Norfolk Southern and figure out when the best time is to let people back,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said.

It’s also too early to tell what led to the derailment. The NTSB says a preliminary report could be ready in 4-6 weeks. A full investigation could last up to two years.

People within a one-mile radius of the derailment are evacuated and anyone who has not evacuated the area is encouraged to stay inside their homes. Additionally, officials said outsiders should stay away from the village and people should keep off the roads to keep them clear for emergency vehicles.

No one was hurt due to the derailment, WFMJ reports.

Norfolk Sothern said a family assistance center has been set up to support anyone who has been directly impacted.

The address of the center is East Palestine City Park, Recreation Hall, 31 Park Avenue, East Palestine, OH 44413.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Norfolk Southern sets up assistance center for people displaced by East Palestine train derailment

The center will be open Saturday night from 4 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross has allowed the organization to set up several shelters throughout the community.

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