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Officials: No evidence of spilled chemical migration

Joe Centers • Dec 2, 2013 at 9:42 PM

There’s no evidence the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer, which spilled from a train Tuesday following a derailment, migrated into the air off the immediate site.

That’s one of the messages officials who spoke at a press conference Wednesday night wanted to convey. However, officials continue to monitor the air and will spend the holiday weekend on-site 24 hours a day to monitor the air quality and the situation in general, said Kevin Clouse, assistant chief of the Ohio EPA emergency response program. Bodies of water in the area will also be tested.

The only area where respirators were needed for workers was the area immediately at the site of the spill.

For their safety, 400 households within Willard and about 20 to 25 outside the city were evacuated due to the spill of 12,500 gallons of the chemical, used for the production of rubber and plastic.

The spill, the cause of which is under investigation, occurred in the Willard rail yard near the underpasses on North Main Street.

“It is our hope that the majority (of those residents) will be coming back tomorrow (Thursday),” Humphress said.

In the meantime, Rusty Orben, director of public affairs at CSX, said the job of officials responding to the incident is two-fold: Respond to the incident quickly and safely and make sure citizens affected are cared for. To that end, officials plan to put displaced residents in hotels in Willard and the surrounding areas. Willard High School is being used as a shelter, so those needing places to stay should go there. As many as 250 people were using early Wednesday morning, Humphress said.

“We’ll get them over to the hotel one way or another,” Orben said.

A community traditional Thanksgiving meal is also planned for 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Willard High School.

“Please come by and share Thanksgiving with your neighbors and our neighbors,” Orben said.

Meanwhile, restaurants such as Uncle Dudley’s and the Willard Country Kitchen planned to serve meals to displaced residents Wednesday night, he added.

He was asked whether the tanker which spilled the chemical experienced any previous incidents. Orben said he’s not aware of any, but it’s standard procedure for tankers to be inspected before transit. He added he’s not sure when the tanker in questions was last inspected.

Any pets will be taken the the shelter or the Huron County Dog Warden for safe keeping.

Humphress said the city will use its Twitter feed for updates.

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