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Train Derailment In The Garden State

Posted on November 30, 2012

Train accidents are far more common than you might imagine. While train accidents aren’t as common as auto accidents, they are often deadlier. Because of their high rate of speed and immense size, trains take a long time to come to a complete stop. They can unleash a path of destruction that stretches for miles before stopping.

A freight train derailed on a railroad bridge that has had problems before, toppling tanker cars partially into a creek and causing a leak of hazardous gas that was blamed for sickening dozens of people.

English: On of the two Cairns Tilt Trains in Q...

English: On of the two Cairns Tilt Trains in Queensland, Australia. (Not the best quality photograph that I’m too proud of, but something to put into Cairns Tilt Train derailment for now.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in New Jersey on Friday afternoon to investigate. They will try to determine whether the derailment was caused by a problem with the bridge or if the derailment was to blame for the bridge’s partial collapse.

A delicate operation lies ahead, as a huge crane was being brought from New York Harbor to pick up the 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 box cars on stable ground and five on the bridge. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said four tankers were partially in the creek.

One tanker containing 25,000 gallons of vinyl chloride was sliced open in the accident and some of the gas spewed into the air, while the rest turned into a solid and settled into the bottom of the tanker.

Breathing vinyl chloride, which is used to make the common plastic PVC, can make people dizzy or sleepy. Breathing very high levels can cause someone to pass out, and breathing extremely high levels can cause death. Most of the vinyl chloride is gone from the body one day after being breathed in.

More than 70 people were treated at Underwood-Memorial Hospital, most complaining of breathing problems, burning eyes or scratchy throats. About a dozen people 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.

Residents of Paulsboro, West Deptford and East Greenwich Township were told to remain indoors early Friday before an all-clear was given. One resident walked through town Friday morning wearing a gas mask.

The bridge usually supports at least three major trains each day serving refineries and other customers in an industrial area along the Delaware River. It was rebuilt after it buckled in August 2009 and when nine cars on a coal train detailed. Officials attributed that accident to bridge misalignment.

The Federal Railroad Administration doesn’t routinely inspect the structural safety of bridges owned by freight railroads, although it does inspect the tracks and can do an inspection if it receives a complaint or if track inspectors notice a problem. The agency last inspected the Paulsboro bridge in January 2010 and found no defects.

The railroads themselves are responsible by law for inspecting their own bridges. The FRA does not know when Conrail last did one.

If you or a loved one were the victim of a train accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

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