Officials on Wednesday informed residents they could return to their homes about five days after a toxic 50-car train derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border forced evacuations.
Authorities made the announcement lifting the evacuation order at a press conference Wednesday evening in East Palestine, Ohio. East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said that air and water samples determined that the evacuation area, which covered about a one-mile radius, was safe for residents.
“The evacuation order has been lifted, if you were asked to evacuate your residence due to the incident in East Palestine, you are permitted to return home. Please return in a safe and orderly manner,” Beaver County Emergency Services tweeted Wednesday.
On Feb. 3. about 50 cars derailed in East Palestine as a train was carrying a variety of freight from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, rail operator Norfolk Southern said. No injuries were reported.
On Feb. 4, officials issued evacuation orders to hundreds of nearby residents due to the release of toxic chemicals from five of the derailed tanker cars. On Feb. 5, authorities warned residents who had declined to evacuate to do so because of the danger of a potential explosion.
Crews slowly released vinyl chloride from the five rail cars into a trough that was then ignited, creating a large plume above the village of East Palestine. Authorities had been closely monitoring the air quality in the evacuation area.
Environmental Protection Agency official James Justice told reporters Tuesday night that EPA investigators had so far been seeing “very few detections,” of dangerous chemical fumes.
“And the detections we have been seeing for the chemicals we’re monitoring for have been very low,” Justice said.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the incident.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Evan Lambert, a Washington, DC-based correspondent for NewsNation, was arrested while doing a live shot in the back of the room. Lambert was pushed to the ground, cuffed and then arrested, video shown.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine commented on the incident during the news conference, saying Lambert had the right to do his job.
“That person had a right to be reported,” DeWine told reporters. “They should have been allowed to report if they were in any way hampered from reporting that that certainly is is wrong and it’s not anything that I approve, in fact I vehemently disapprove of it.”
According to a statement from News Nation Bureau Chief Mike Viqueira, Lambert was being held in Columbiana County Jail and has been charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.
“First, Evan is safe and calm, and continues to act with professionalism and integrity that he brings to his work everyday,” Viqueira said. “As you see from the videos, he was doing his job — what hundreds of journalists do without incident — reporting to the public on a matter of urgent, critical interest to our audience.”