Train Derailment Disaster Averted By Controlled Burn And Evacuation Of Residents

( – A severe train derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border on Friday, February 3rd, led to an evacuation of the area over the weekend. The Norfolk Southern-operated cargo train was carrying a significant quantity of the chemical vinyl chloride, a key ingredient in the manufacture of poly-vinyl chloride or PVC plastic. The threat of an explosion led authorities to perform a controlled burn of the flammable substance which required an evacuation of the surrounding area as the burn would create toxic fumes. The burn successfully averted the possibility of an explosion, but evacuation orders are still in effect as of Tuesday morning.

Fifty cars, ten of which carried hazardous materials, derailed due to a mechanical failure. No injuries or deaths from the crew or anyone else have been reported at this time thankfully.

A huge plume of black smoke could be observed coming from the site shortly after officials began the burn. Authorities are monitoring the air quality closely in order to track the dispersal of the gases, which will harm anything that breathes that gets too close. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro claimed nothing “concerning” was detected in the readings 3 hours after they began the operation.

The burn throws off phosgene and hydrogen chloride, the prior so toxic it was used as a weapon during World War I. Doing the burn during daylight hours would disperse the chemicals faster, and prevent the possibility of an explosion which would threaten the surrounding residential area with high-velocity shrapnel.

Hazardous waste experts used a small charge to open holes in the damaged tankers which drained the chemical into a trench where it was ignited and allowed to burn off.

Forced evacuations started Sunday evening in East Palestine, Ohio once officials realized there was a danger of an explosion. Locals were asked to leave the area while the National Guard and police blocked roads leading to the site. One man was arrested for evading the barricades and approaching the site.

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