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Most residents back home after chemical leak in Ohio train derailment

Railway Transportation

Most of the 400 residents who were evacuated in a small northern Ohio town have been allowed to return to their homes after a train car leaked thousands of gallons of a highly flammable chemical earlier this week.

The homes closest to Tuesday's derailment in the town of Willard will remain off-limits as the cleanup continues, according a statement by the railroad company CSX Transportation. About three dozen homes are still in the evacuation zone, according to the city.

Officials lifted the evacuation for the bulk of the homes on Thursday afternoon, allowing residents to return in time for Thanksgiving after 13,000 gallons of styrene monomer leaked from a train car.

No injuries were reported.

The leak occurred when a rail car was damaged in the derailment. That’s when the chemical -- a colorless liquid used in the manufacture of plastics -- started to leak. The liquid can cause some inflammation and irritation for humans who breathe or touch it.

Many of the evacuees ended up at Willard High School, which served as a community center, as crews worked overnight to re-rail four of the train cars, CSX stated in a news release.

Willard has a population of 6,180 and is about 75 miles southwest of Cleveland.

Cleanup efforts are expected to continue for the next several days. It’s unclear when the remaining evacuees will be allowed to return home.

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