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Train Wreck Leaks Toxic Chemical, Sickens Dozens

November 30, 2012 — According to, a freight train carrying highly flammable, toxic chemicals derailed at about 7 a.m. this morning near Paulsboro, New Jersey, after a bridge collapsed over the Mantuna Creek. At least three cars were known to be leaking chemicals, including one containing vinyl chloride. Dozens of residents have arrived at local hospitals complaining of respiratory problems.

Local hospitals have reportedly treated 11 people who arrived by ambulance from the scene of the accident, and another 17 walk-in arrivals. At least 18 people at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal complained of respiratory problems and will be treated at local hospitals. Locals schools are in lockdown, with children in the school cafeteria and gymnasium until officials give the all-clear.

CSX, the railroad company that owns the freight train, has dispatched local environmental teams to place booms in the creek. Gloucester County HazMat teams have also been dispatched to monitor the air for the chemical.

This is not the first time a major accident has occurred on this bridge — it also collapsed in 2009, after a 50-car train carrying coal passed over it, causing 16 cars to overturn into the creek. Spills into the creek flow into the Delaware River.

Vinyl chloride is a highly flammable and toxic chemical that is used in the creation of PVC and a variety of common plastics, including pipe, cable coatings, and packing materials. The gas is colorless, has a sweet smell, is heavier than air, and can travel along the ground. People who breathe the chemical may suffer irritation of the eyes or throat, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, sleepiness, loss of consciousness, or death.

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