COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has issued an urgent evacuation notice for anyone within a mile of a train derailment in the eastern part of the state.
The train derailment in East Palestine, Columbiana County, happened Friday when a Norfolk and Southern train derailed and caught fire in the village, located on the Pennsylvania border.
According to the notice, while most people in that radius have already evacuated, local officials said there are more than 500 residents who have declined to leave their homes.
In an afternoon update, DeWine said he is ordering people in the area to leave before a 3:30 p.m. controlled release at the derailment site. The release will be of toxic chemicals near the site that if inhaled could be deadly.
You can view DeWine’s full update in the video player below.
A statement from the Governor’s office reads: “The vinyl chloride contents of five rail cars are currently unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes. To alleviate the risk of uncontrollable shrapnel from an explosion, Norfolk Southern Railroad is planning a controlled release of the vinyl chloride at approximately 3:30 p.m. today.”
According to the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office, those with children in their homes who do not evacuate may be arrested.
The notice comes after a “drastic temperature change” happened in one of the rail cars, which officials said could lead to an explosion that could send shrapnel up to a mile away.
“Although teams are working to prevent an explosion from happening, residents living within a mile of the site are advised to immediately leave the area,” the evacuation notice reads.
The train, pulling 150-200 cars, derailed Friday around 9 p.m. on the east end of East Palestine. The fire that ensued stretched from one-quarter to one-half mile along the tracks. The intensity of the fire has decreased since Friday, but as of Sunday evening, was still burning.
DeWine has activated the Ohio National Guard to assist at the scene.
Anyone in the area who needs help evacuating can call 330-426-4341 for assistance.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday that a mechanical issue with a rail car axle caused the derailment.
Norfolk Southern said 20 of the more than 100 cars were classified as carrying hazardous materials — defined as cargo that could pose any kind of danger “including flammables, combustibles, or environmental risks.” Some cars carried vinyl chloride, and at least one was “intermittently releasing” its contents via a pressure release device.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.