An evacuation order was put in place Sunday night because of the explosion and air quality near the crash site in Columbiana County.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — An evacuation order in East Palestine has been lifted after a train derailment last weekend as a result of the release of potentially hazardous chemicals into the air.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made the announcement Wednesday in conjunction with the East Palestine Fire Department and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). DeWine authorized the lifting of the order after consulting with Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, whose community was also affected by the disaster and agreed with the decision to send residents home.

“The safety of residents affected by the East Palestine train derailment has been our No. 1 priority throughout,” said Fire Chief Keith Drabick. “It is now safe to be in the evacuation zone.”

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on monday afternoon officials conducted a controlled chemical release after DeWine noted that the vinyl chloride contained in the five rail cars “is currently unstable and could potentially explode, causing lethal releases of shrapnel and toxic fumes.” Because of these risks, all residents within a mile of the accident were ordered to leave under threat of arrest.

By Monday evening, Norfolk Southern Railway’s Scott Deutsch said crews were “very pleased” with the outcome of the release, which sent a plume of black smoke into the air.

“The blast went perfectly, and we’ve already reached the point where the cars are safe,” Deutsch said. “They weren’t safe before that.”

Officials were conducting tests throughout the area and awaiting additional results before lifting the evacuation order. According to the governor’s office, those tests found “point readings below safety levels for contaminants of concern.”

“All of the readings we recorded in the community were normal concentrations, normal background, which you would find in almost any community that works outside,” James Justice of the US EPA told reporters.

In addition, the Ohio EPA is studying water quality in the village. While chemicals did enter waterways, “steps were taken to minimize that,” according to environmental specialist Kurt Kolar.

“All information and data to date, [show those actions have] still protects drinking water,” Kollar said, noting that the immediate side effects were toxic to fish. “We’re working closely with our partners to make sure that’s preserved.”

Officials will continue to monitor the area to ensure levels remain normal. While citizens may return, Drabik urged everyone to follow the plan for a safe return to the village, which can be found below:

A lawsuit has been filed v. Norfolk Southern, as multiple plaintiffs from East Palestine seek damages. Those who continue to be concerned are encouraged to contact the Railroad Family Assistance Center at (800) 230-7049.

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