Residents in Willard were evacuated after a chemical spill in Willard overnight Wednesday. They will not be allowed back into their homes until Thursday
WILLARD, Ohio -- About 400 households in the city and 25 households outside the city were evacuated in Willard due to a chemical spill from a CSX railroad car.
In a press conference late Wednesday, city leaders and safety forces said evacuees will remain out of their homes until Thursday. They were sheltered at Willard High School and have also been sent to hotel rooms locally and as far away as Tiffin and Sandusky.
Household pets were taken to local shelters and local veterinarians.
As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, there was still a faint smell in the air of chemicals. No one has been reported to be injured.
It happened in the Willard rail yard around 11:42 p.m. Tuesday and was contained at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.
CSX official Rusty Orben confirmed that the tanker that leaked is model DOT-111 -- containing highly flammable liquid -- developed a significant hole and that the liquid was pouring out of the tanks.
A CSX spokesperson told WKYC that the incident happened when the rail car was switching tracks. The rail car was carrying 25,000 gallons of the chemical and about 12,500 gallons leaked out..
That liquid is "styrene monomer," which is a highly flammable substance. It is commonly used in packing materials.
Willard Public Safety and CSX clean-up crews remain on the scene, along with the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA.
Willard's City Manager Brian Humphress told WKYC that clean up was taking longer than expected.
The city evacuated homes within a half-mile radius of the Main Street underpass, which includes Tiffin, Dogtown, Second, and Myrtle streets.
Many of the evacuees have gone to the Willard High School where a shelter has been set up. CSX is also paying for hotel rooms for evacuees through Thursday.
CSX is holding a community Thanksgiving dinner at the high school from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving. Residents who were evacuated can also go to Uncle Dudley's or Country Kitchen Wednesday and on Thursday and say they have been evacuated and their meals will be paid for by CSX.
CSX has released the following statement:
CSX Transportation is working with first responders in Willard, Ohio, to assist residents who have evacuated their homes due to a tank car leak. The company is establishing a community outreach center at the Willard Town Hall, and securing hotel rooms for displaced residents. The leak from the tank car of styrene monomer, a flammable product used in the manufacture of plastics, has been stopped. The tank car was damaged in a derailment at the CSX Willard Yard. CSX thanks the first responders for their support, and pledges to work with them and the community to resolve this incident as safely and quickly as possible.
Earlier this month a WKYC report looked into the dangers of a DOT-111 rail car. This is the type of car that was transporting the chemical that leaked today in Willard.
The DOT-111 has been the subject of five warnings from the National Transportation and Safety Board. The NTSB says the design of the DOT-111 is unsafe.
The number of carloads carrying crude oil across country by train has jumped enormously in the past few years. But safety experts are questioning whether the train cars used to transport oil and ethanol are safe.