New Jersey bridge collapse derails freight train; chemical leaks

Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:54pm EST
 

By Dave Warner

PAULSBORO, New Jersey (Reuters) - A railroad bridge collapsed on Friday over a creek in southern New Jersey, causing a Conrail freight train to derail and spill hazardous chemicals into the air and water, authorities said.

Seven of the 82 cars derailed, and a tanker car that fell into Mantua Creek leaked vinyl chloride into the waterway, which feeds into the Delaware River near Philadelphia, said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

More than 12,000 gallons (45,425 liters) of the highly toxic and flammable industrial chemical leaked from a gash in the car's side, local officials said.

Twenty-two people were examined at a nearby hospital as a precaution and were doing fine, said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Ragonese said the health danger and environmental impact were minimal.

"Initially there was a release of gas into the air that affected some nearby residents and people working right in that area," he said.

Air quality monitors in the area did not register any problem, said Lawrence Hajna, also with the DEP. "All the levels are coming in within our safety range."

Exposure to vinyl chloride can cause a burning sensation in the eyes or respiratory discomfort, the DEP said.   Continued...

 
Derailed freight train cars sit semi-submerged in the waters of Mantua Creek after a train crash in Paulsboro, New Jersey November 30, 2012. A rail bridge collapsed on Friday over a creek in southern New Jersey, causing a Conrail freight train to derail and spill hazardous chemicals into the air and water, authorities said. REUTERS/Andrew Burton