December 10, 2012 — A mother of three from Paulsboro, New Jersey, has filed a lawsuit against three railroad companies after a train derailment spilled toxic chemicals into the air. The plaintiff, Alice Breeman, says that she and her three children suffered respiratory problems. She is seeking $10 million in damages for her injury and unknown future complications.
The train derailment occurred at about 7 a.m. on November 30, 2012, after a bridge collapsed over Mantua Creek. One car carrying 23,000 gallons of highly toxic and flammable vinyl chloride spilled gas into the air, and two other cars carrying the chemical fell into the creek.
Officials evacuated hundreds of area residents. Dozens reported suffering breathing problems and were sent to local hospitals for treatment and evaluation.
Ten days after accident, Alice Breeman filed a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court against Conrail, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and CSX Transportation. The lawsuit alleges that the train companies were negligent in inspecting and maintaining the bridge. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the train crossed the bridge despite a red signal.
In 2009, the bridge was the site of a major train derailment involving 16 cars from a 50-car train carrying coal.
This past weekend, local residents were allowed back into their homes after officials detected zero vinyl chloride in the air and homes. Local schools will re-open tomorrow. Environmental clean-up teams are still working to clean up the spill in the creek.
Vinyl chloride is a chemical that is used to manufacture PVC, packing materials, cable coatings, and other common plastics. The chemical is extremely flammable and toxic. People who breathe the chemical can suffer irritation of the eyes, throat, and lungs. If large amounts are ingested, it can cause loss of consciousness and/or death.
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