Five days after roughly 50 train cars derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, people living in the area have yet to return to their homes.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued an evacuation order in the aftermath of the fiery wreck, with 10 of the derailed cars containing hazardous materials. After workers released and burned toxic gas from five of the cars on Monday, residents are still waiting to see if the air is safe enough to go back.
“There’s all that smoke and all those chemicals in there,” resident Mason Shields told The Associated Press. “I’m wondering if it’s even going to be safe for people to return within the next week or month or however long.”
“I’m scared to go back home,” said Brittany Dailey. “I’m eventually going to have to go back, but it makes me want to sell my house and move at this point.”
OHIO SKYLINE LIT UP BY FIREBALL, BLACK PLUMES OF SMOKE AS TOXIC CHEMICALS ARE RELEASED FROM DERAILED TRAIN
Crew members performed a controlled burn of vinyl chloride that was being stored in rail cars. This resulted in the release of hydrogen chloride and phosgene, a gas that was used as a weapon during World War I that can cause vomiting and difficulty breathing.
Federal officials are monitoring the situation with the Environmental Protection Agency collecting air samples inside and outside the evacuation area. National Guard members also conducted readings inside homes while wearing protective equipment.
OFFICIALS ADVISE EVACUATION OVER EXPLOSION CONCERNS AFTER TRAIN DERAILMENT IN OHIO
An EPA spokesperson said federal officials so far had not seen anything concerning in their samples, but that they “want to make sure that’s not going to change.”
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway urged people to remain as patient as possible.
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“We have to rely on the experts for this,” Conaway told reporters Tuesday, referring to the Ohio and U.S. EPAs.
“We’re doing the best we can,” the mayor said. Frustration levels are high for everybody. Everybody’s tired. We’re doing our best.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.