Ohio to carry out controlled release of chemicals at train derailment site

By Kanishka Singh

Feb 6 (Reuters) - Ohio officials on Monday said they would carry out a controlled release of hazardous chemicals after ordering evacuations near the site of a train derailment in the northeastern part of the state that led to a chemical fire.

The release from the derailed cars was set for Monday afternoon, three days after the train derailed near the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania on Friday night, causing a massive fire.

"We have put together a plan to manually vent the cars. The contents will be drained in a controlled fashion," railroad operator Norfolk Southern Corp said in a statement on Monday.

Images posted on social media from East Palestine, a town northwest of Pittsburgh, showed several train cars on fire.

Officials on Sunday ordered residents living within 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 km) of the derailment to leave their homes as a precaution. The Columbiana County Sheriff warned that those who ignored the evacuation order may be subject to arrest.

"You need to leave. You just need to leave. We are ordering you to leave," Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said on Monday. "This is a matter of life and death."

The manual release of the pressure will result from a controlled breach of several rail cars, conducted under the supervision of experts and first responders, Norfolk Southern said.

"This will be loud and visible. Some of the material will burn off as it drains for a short number of hours," the railroad operator added. (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)