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Willard, Ohio Chemical Spill Forces Hundreds Of Evacuations Near Rail Yard

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WILLARD, Ohio (AP) — Hundreds of homes in a small northern Ohio city were to remain evacuated at least into Thanksgiving morning after a train derailment damaged a railcar that leaked flammable liquid, a spokesman for CSX Corp. said.

Local responders, CSX crews and cleanup workers planned to work through Wednesday night to vacuum liquid and remove the affected soil in the area of the spill in Willard, about 65 miles southwest of Cleveland.

Four cars derailed at the rail yard late Tuesday while switching trains, and officials believe that's when one car was damaged, said Gary Sease, a spokesman for the freight railroad. An investigation into the cause is ongoing.

No injuries were reported.

The damaged car leaked about half of its 26,000 gallons of styrene monomer, which is used to make various plastic and rubber products, Sease said.

The liquid leaked from a 4-inch hole for several hours before it was resealed, Willard's city manager, Brian Humphress, told The Sandusky Register.

Residents were told overnight to evacuate an area encompassing more than 425 homes, said Willard Fire Chief Joe Reiderman. They sought shelter with friends and family, at the high school or in local motels.

The evacuation was to continue into Thursday morning, when officials planned to reassess whether portions of the area could be reopened, Reiderman said. "We're hoping to get some people back in there."

Representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio EPA are monitoring the cleanup.

CSX is providing hotels to the evacuees and planned to offer Thanksgiving meals to residents and first responders impacted by the spill, Sease said.

Jennifer Barnett told The Blade in Toledo that police awoke her family around 2:30 a.m., and she, her husband and her three children were taken to the school by van, without their own vehicle.

"Most likely we're not going to have Thanksgiving with our family," she said.

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