Humphress: 'I will agree with him; we did get it right

Willard officials discuss chemical spill aftermath
Aaron Krause
Dec 17, 2013

After Willard residents had to evacuate their homes due to a chemical spill from a CSX railcar, they were fed a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

In addition to the food, they had plenty to be thankful for, according to statements made by city manager Brian Humphress during a recent council meeting.

Humphress said the material, 1,200 gallons of styrene monomer, is meant to be stored at less than 50 degrees. Fortunately, it was in the mid-20s. With the amount of sparks flying from the highly flammable chemical, a disaster could have resulted had been summer and 95 degrees, Humphress said.

Almost 400 residences had to be evacuated due to the spill, which happened before midnight the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Humphress said people were back in their homes by mid-day Thanksgiving Day.

The city manager said city officials evacuated residents within a half-mile radius of the spill due to the concern for potential damage.

"This was a big deal," Humphress said.

He said the three hours following the spill was tense.

"We were on pins and needles for the first three hours because we didn't know what was going to happen," Humphress said, describing a scene in which officials had to bang on doors to make people aware of the situation.

Humphress told council about the governor's presence.

"I will agree with him; we did get it right," the city manager said, adding city officials might have erred a bit on the side of caution." It could have been a whole lot worse," Humphress said. "Everybody pitched in and did what they had to do."

He added that many officials stayed up for 48 hours without sleep.

He singled out CSX officials.

"CSX did, in my opinion, about as good a job as they could have."

He also said school officials responded any time city officials called them.

Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz said he received a call early Wednesday morning from a police officer asking whether he would unlock the school. Ritz called high school principal Chris Schaaf, who was "half asleep."

"He said, 'You're not kidding me, are you'"? Ritz recalled Schaaf asking him.

Ritz commended the district's staff for manning the high school, which was used as a shelter for evacuees.

Joining them was Gov. John Kasich, who offered encouragement.

By daylight, the Environmental Protection Agency and CSX officials were monitoring the situation, specifically the air quality.

The city manager said tests have showed no infiltration of the chemical into the air or bodies of water.

Comments

WASP71

I think you all did a hell of a job!!.. I'm glad you did what was needed. I may live 5 miles from here, but a heck of a job by all!!

Foodforthought

This was a major issue. And as upset some residents were for being moved and kept away, this was for there own good. I commend the City Officials with this and for a job well done. This could have gone the other way really fast but it didnt. So thank you for protecting us all and for making sure all affected were very well taken care of.

hit the road jack

Did they ever say why the train derailed? their should never be a derailment like this,you people were damn lucky no one was close smoking or that the train didn't ignite this stuff,you need to look it up in the haz mat book that tells of the dangers and warnings of this stuff,IT IS NASTY STUFF!