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Some Ohio derailment evacuees could be out longer

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November 28, 2013 12:19 PM EST | AP

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WILLARD, Ohio (AP) — Most families evacuated in northern Ohio after a train derailment and chemical spill were told they could expect to return home by late Thursday, but others could be kept away until late Friday.

Residents in a limited area were allowed home Thanksgiving morning, and the city administration said it expected most residents to be allowed back home later in the day.

At the same time, residents living on a street closest to the scene of Tuesday night's derailment could be out of their homes until late Friday, the city said.

There was no immediate estimate of the number of families who returned or who might be evacuated longer. An area of more than 425 homes was evacuated after the train derailment damaged a railcar that leaked styrene monomer, a flammable liquid that is used to make various plastic and rubber products.

The city administration said air quality testing done by CSX Corp. and confirmed by state and federal environmental officials showed "only minor traces of the styrene in the air, well below danger level."

The four derailed cars were put back on the tracks early Thursday, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease, adding that clearing the area would help with the cleanup.

The railroad offered evacuated residents a free Thanksgiving dinner served Thursday afternoon at Willard High School.

Crews worked to vacuum liquid and remove the affected soil in the area of the spill in Willard, about 65 miles southwest of Cleveland.

The cars derailed at the rail yard while switching trains, and officials believe that's when one car was damaged, according to Sease. The rail yard is a key link for CSX freight trains running between Chicago and the East Coast.

An investigation into the cause is ongoing, Season said.

The damaged car leaked about half of its 26,000 gallons of styrene monomer, he said. The liquid dripped from a 4-inch hole for several hours before it was resealed.

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