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Residents evacuated from the Ohio train derailment scene still haven't returned home


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine joins us next. Governor, good morning.

MIKE DEWINE: Good morning. Good to be with you.

INSKEEP: Can you help us understand the timeline here? This train derailed on Friday, but it seems to have taken a couple of days of burning for it to develop into an emergency that required an evacuation.

DEWINE: Well, as things started going south Sunday night, I was on a conference call with our team, which I'd been doing. And, you know, they talked about the measurement that the railroad was doing with one particular car where the temperature was going up. They described chemicals in there as instable And the concern was a - what they described as a catastrophic blowup. And so, you know, I went there, to Columbiana County, and was on the phone yesterday probably for 2 to 3 hours with Governor Shapiro, as we talked through this whole situation and got the best advice we could. We had the Defense Department involved. Our Ohio National Guard did the modeling. And that was the real question. You know, what is the damage if you do nothing and it ends up blowing up versus going in, as your reporters already described, you know, a controlled release.


DEWINE: And both of them - frankly, neither one was a particularly, you know - an option that we liked. And so it was really a balancing - trying to balance those out. And the final decision was, you know, to evacuate people in the area. We had to make sure we had the right modeling down, and we think we did. And, you know, that took place. We went back. When this started, we had evacuated people...


DEWINE: ...From that - pretty much that whole area. We had to go back, now for the third time, yesterday and make sure that people - you know, people were out and then we moved forward.

INSKEEP: You mentioned modeling. Of course, you're talking about trying to calculate where the chemicals would go, what areas would be hazardous for people to be in. Do you feel the evacuation went well?

DEWINE: Well, look, I think it went well. But, you know, you always have to be concerned when you go in. People do not want to leave. And when we went in the second and third time, you know, we have no way of knowing if people are actually in the house. They just are not responding. Our local sheriff, other law enforcement, Ohio State Highway Patrol, really, you know, made a lot of noise, banged on the doors. And, you know, we were able to get several other people out. But, you know, there's some people who were still, you know, reluctant to get out. The modeling, you know, so far, has turned out to be good. We are monitoring - the Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA is monitoring the air outside the area where we told everybody to - you know, that was inside that area to leave. And so far, the air quality has been good.

INSKEEP: What questions do you have now, Governor, about the safety of the railroads that run through your state?

DEWINE: Oh, it brings up, you know, many, many questions. And I think after you see a catastrophic, you know, wreck like that with all the ramifications and, of course, knowing, you know, what they were carrying, I think you have to - you know, we have to go back and kind of reexamine the whole situation. I mean, the federal government, of course, is doing the investigation. They'll let us know what - why that actually happened. But, yes, it certainly is a wake-up call. And, you know, we're going to have to take a hard look at all the railroads.

INSKEEP: Mike DeWine is the Republican governor of Ohio. Governor, thanks for joining us this morning.

DEWINE: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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