WILLARD, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Fire Chief Joe Reiderman today lifted the evacuation and allowed most residents to return to their homes following a derailment late Tuesday night. Most residents were given the all-clear at 3:00 p.m. after significant progress in clearing the CSX Transportation derailment, which spilled approximately 13,000 gallons of styrene monomer, a flammable product used in the production of plastics and rubber.
“On this Thanksgiving Day, when we remember our blessings, it gives me great pleasure to tell our neighbors that it’s safe to return to their homes,” Chief Reiderman said. “I want to thank our community for its support and patience in this difficult process.”
Rusty Orben, director-public affairs for CSX, echoed Chief Reiderman’s praise. “All of us at CSX thank this community and its first responders for their incredible patience and cooperation this week. CSX pledges to continue to remain on site, helping people re-enter their homes safely.”
A small number of homes closest to the derailment and product spill will remain off limits as the cleanup continues, Chief Reiderman said. Those families will continue to be housed at area hotels and their lodging, meals and other needs taken care of by CSX as they have been since the derailment. CSX also offered residents air monitoring in their homes if they had any concerns. Monitoring in the area has consistently showed the air to be safe, despite a minor odor. However, precautions are being taken with the homes closest to the immediate derailment site.
At the Willard High School, which has also served as the Community Outreach Center, CSX provided a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings from 1-4 p.m. City and CSX representatives were available there to help residents get back to their homes and to answer any questions.
Meanwhile, overnight operations resulted in the re-railing of the four derailed rail cars, which will open up the area for additional cleanup being done in coordination with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rail cars derailed during switching operations, and a CSX investigation is under way to determine the cause.
Clean-up work will continue for the next several days, and the Community Outreach Center will remain open at least through the weekend.