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Paulsboro train derailment opens debate on toxic material transportation

trainderailment113012_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Federal Railroad Administration statistics say there have been 310 accidents with tank cars carrying hazardous chemicals over the past ten years.

The train derailment in Paulsboro on Friday has renewed the debate about the safety of tank cars carrying toxic materials across the U.S.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, federal records showed that in North Dakota, five tank cars hauling ammonia gas broke open in 2001, killing one and injuring over 1,400. In 2005, a collision in South Carolina caused one train car to release about 60 tons of chlorine. Nine people died from the incident.

In 2004, a National Transportation Safety Board report determined that more than half of the 60,000 rail tank cars that transport hazardous materials had been built below standards.

South Jersey Times reported that the bridge in Paulsboro had collapsed before in August 2009. According to Gloucester County emergency response officials, the rebuilt Conrail bridge buckled under the sixth car.

According to CBS News, the accident happened at about 7 a.m. on Friday, and one of the derailed cars leaked vinyl chloride into the air. More than 70 people went to Underwood Memorial Hospital, all but eight having been released.

The Department of Environmental Protection said they did not detect any vinyl chloride in the air at the accident site.

The NTSB is investigating the accident. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney called the incident “Conrail’s responsibility,” according to the South Jersey Times.

Conrail said they regret the “impact on the local community,” the Times said.

 

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