Screenshot from an aerial video of the crash site.
15 Feb 2023

A controlled release of vinyl chloride performed after HazMat train derailment - due to explosion risk


A freight train derailed in Ohio last Friday and caused a large fire. Residents in the area have been evacuated due to the risk of a deadly explosion which could send debris flying and causing damage for more than a kilometer.   


UPDATED February 16:

Residents are concerned after three more hazardous chemicals have been discovered after the planned release of vinyl chloride. The fire department is now needing to replace contaminated equipment. 

According to CBS News, the East Palestine Fire Department needs all new equipment following the train derailment that took place nearly two weeks ago, and which CTIF.org wrote about previously. 

According to the CBS article on February 15, the department lost all of their breathing apparatuses and turnout  gear. Also, all the trucks have to go through a decontamination process, after dealing with the planned release of vinyl chloride to avoid an explosion in some of the derailed tanker cars. 

CBS also has a video with aerial footage summarizing what happened near East Palestine, Ohio on February 3rd. 


More toxic chemicals discovered - sparks debate about freight rail safety

Three more toxic chemicals have been discovered to have affected the area, according to an article on WKBN.com. 

“We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” said Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist, to the news site. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Norfolk Southern stating that ethylene glycol monobutyl etherethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene were also in the rail cars that were either derailed, breached and or on fire.

Caggiano also said it is possible that some of these chemicals could still be present in homes and on objects until they are cleaned thoroughly - and recommends anyone in the area should get a health check-up. 

According to AP, the release of toxic chemicals has caused great concern among residents in the area, and has sparked a debate about the transport of hazardous materials by rail. 

Around 50 cars, with 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash last Friday in East Palestine, according to  the National Transportation Safety Board. Vinyl chloride was slowly released into the air Monday from five of those cars before crews ignited it to remove the highly flammable and also  toxic chemicals in a controlled environment. This created a dark plume of smoke, and all residents were evacuated from the area. 


UPDATED February 8:

According to 10TV.com, residents near the train derailment site are worried about toxic gas from the controlled release performed on some of the rail cars containing vinyl chloride. 

Officials decided on Monday that the safest way to prevent a dangerous explosion would be to release and burn the the vinyl chloride inside five of the derailed tanker cars.

"Air monitoring so far had not detected dangerous levels of fumes in the Ohio and Pennsylvania communities near the derailment site, but residents living close to the wreckage still weren’t being allowed back", authorities said Tuesday.

When the fire from the controlled release of the chemicals was no longer burning, authorities said they want to ensure the air is safe before lifting the evacuation order issued by the governors who warned that the fumes could cause death or serious injury to those remaining in the area. 

Governor Mike DeWine says it's unclear when evacuated residents might be able to return home.

National Guard members wearing protective gear will be deployed to take readings inside homes, basements and businesses, said Major General John Harris Jr.



On Monday evening, HazMat teams performing a controlled release of the toxic and flammable chemical vinyl chloride from a derailed train in north-eastern Ohio. This occurred only hours after the authorities ordered all residents to evacuate the area "or risk death" 

Residents forced to evacuate had still not been allowed to return home on Tuesday morning, February 7. On Monday,  parts of the mandatory evacuation zone were extended into the state of  Pennsylvania. Some residents have allagedly been refusing to evacuate the area. 

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said the controlled release and burn was going "as planned", during a press conference on Monday evening.

"Thus far, no concerning readings have been detected," Mr Shapiro said speaking about three hours after the procedure began.

The crews who have been monitoring air quality have not seen anything unexpected, according to an official from the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

Photos from the scene showed plumes of black smoke after officials said the controlled release would begin.


On February 6 CTIF.org wrote:

On Sunday, Governor Mike DeWine said "a drastic temperature change has taken place in a rail car, and there is now the potential of a catastrophic tanker car failure which could cause an explosion with the potential of deadly shrapnel traveling up to a mile".

About 50 rail cars have been derailed on the site. An evacuation order has been in place for anyone within a one-mile (1.6km) radius of the crash site in the area of East Palestine, Ohio in the United States. 

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have said the train had  20 rail cars carrying hazardous material, and ten of them derailed last Friday 15 miles / 24 kms south of Youngstown, Ohio.

Five of the derailed tanker cars contained the chemical vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and flammable gas.

Exposure to vinyl chloride can lead to heightened risks of certain forms of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. State environmental officials claimed harmful levels had not been detected in the community.

In an effort to reduce the risk of a potentially deadly explosion, Governor Mike DeWine said the controlled release of vinyl chloride would occur at 15:30 local time on Monday, February 6.

Read more and see av video from the incident


Screenshot from an aerial video of the hazmat train fire
Screenshot from an aerial video of the hazmat train fire