Wednesday, December 13, 2017

N.J. train derailment tips tankers, sickens dozens

PAULSBORO, N.J. — Homes have been evacuated anew near the spot in southern New Jersey where a train derailed, releasing a hazardous chemical into the air and sickening dozens of people.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman said Friday night that there were evacuations in Paulsboro because of increased levels of chemicals.

Around 7 a.m., seven train cars derailed on a bridge. One tanker car was sliced open, releasing vinyl chloride. Hours later, officials gave the all-clear for residents near the site to return but warned that there could be more complications.

A 12-block radius was evacuated on Friday evening. U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Drew Madjeska tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that residents might not be allowed back for several days.

NTSB investigators will try to determine whether the derailment was caused by a problem with the bridge or if the derailment caused the bridge's partial collapse.

A delicate operation lies ahead, as a huge crane was being brought from New York Harbor to pick up dangling tanker cars.

The accident happened just after 7 a.m. when a train with two locomotives, 83 freight cars and a caboose made its way from Camden to the industrial town of Paulsboro, just across the river from Philadelphia International Airport.

Cars from a train operated by CSX went off the rails on a swing-style bridge, owned by Conrail, over Mantua Creek.

Seven cars derailed, including two boxcars on stable ground and five on the bridge. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said four tankers were partly in the creek.

More than 70 people were treated at Underwood-Memorial Hospital, most were complaining of breathing problems, burning eyes or scratchy throats, said spokeswoman Karen Urbaniak. She said 11 arrived by ambulance, and the rest walked in. More than 60 were discharged by late afternoon, and the handful that remained were in stable condition.

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