Hundreds of Willard Families Permitted to Return

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WILLARD, Ohio — The City of Willard said approximately 370 families were permitted to return to their homes Thursday afternoon following a dangerous chemical spill Tuesday night.

The evacuation order is still in effect for the Pleasant Street area, which is closest to the chemical spill. The area includes three homes on North Main and one home on Church Street. Authorities say cleanup efforts are still underway in that area and the evacuation notice will be lifted as soon as possible.

Residents still under the evacuation order on Pleasant Street, North Main Street and Church Street are asked to call 1-877-TELL-CSX.

Authorities say a minor odor may still be present, but there is not a threat to the health and safety of residents.

CSX will pay for evacuees' meals at Uncle Dudley's or the Country Kitchen on Friday. ID is not required, and residents should simply tell the server they were impacted by the evacuation.

Willard High School served up Thanksgiving dinner to more than 250 residents Thursday who were joined by Ohio Governor John Kasich for short time. In addition to meeting with evacuated residents, Governor Kasich was also briefed by CSX and emergency response officials.

"From the first responders to the people that have been on the ground managing this to the company, and to the people, this is the way you do things when it's tough, and it's tough to be here on Thanksgiving."

The chemical spill occurred at the Willard Rail Yard in Huron County around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Willard police went door to door in a half-mile radius from the derailment, evacuating about 400 homes.

The accident punctured a tanker, creating a four-inch hole that was leaking a substance called Styrene Monomer, which is highly flammable.

"It's a chemical that's used in the manufacture of rubber and plastics, the hazard initially was that it was a flammable type of chemical," said CSX spokesman Rusty Orben.

Police said the leak was contained around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday after approximately 12,500 gallons leaked from the tanker.

According to the City of Willard, CSX is providing hotel rooms in either Tiffin or Sandusky to those in need.

Residents can stop by the Willard High School commons area and ask for a CSX outreach representative for accommodations. The community outreach center will remain open at least through the weekend to help impacted residents.

Residents who sought hotel rooms on their own can take their receipts to the outreach representative at Willard High School for reimbursement.

Fox 8 News will provide updates as they become available.

Click here for continuing coverage on this story.

(Fox 8's Kevin Freeman and Jack Shea contributed to this report.)

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