(UPDATE) NJ rail bridge collapse causes derailment, chemical leak

A barrel floats in the Delaware River.

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.

One of four tanks of the freight train carrying vinyl chloride fell into Mantua Creek, and its contents leaked into the waterway, which feeds into the Delaware River near Philadelphia, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Some 22 people were taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary examinations and were doing fine, said Larry Ragonese, a DEP spokesman who said the health danger and environmental impact was 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.

Exposure to vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and flammable industrial chemical, can cause burning eyes or respiratory discomfort, he said.

Authorities evacuated a half-mile (805-metre) area around the spill, which took place at about 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) in Paulsboro, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Local schools were closed and students were sent home, authorities said.

The leak was contained and no longer posed a threat, and authorities were using booms to trap the chemical in the water, Ragonese said.

At the scene, one of the freight cars was nearly vertical, nose-down and partly submerged in the creek. Other cars lay jumbled on the embankment.

“It’s part of living in Paulsboro, with refineries and trains. We accept it,” said resident John Diamond, 53, who was taking photographs at the scene.

The area is thick with chemical plants, and two refineries, PBF Energy’s Paulsboro and Nustar’s Asphault, are nearby.

Locals fish and go crabbing and jet-ski in the creek in the warm months, Diamond said.

Air quality monitors in the area did not register any problem, said Lawrence Hajna, also with the state DEP.

“All the levels are coming in within our safety range,” he said.

The swing bridge that collapsed underwent extensive repairs after getting damaged in a 2009 derailment of a coal freight train, said John Burzichelli, a state assemblyman and former mayor of Paulsboro.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney, also on the scene, said a nearby homeowner reported hearing a “loud bang” from the bridge about two days ago, and Burzichelli said Conrail had come out to examine it in response.

“That bridge is very old. It’s not a good day for Conrail,” Burzichelli said.

Conrail officials could not be immediately reached for comment. Sweeney said he too was having trouble getting in contact with Conrail.

Conrail is jointly owned by rail operators CSX Corp and Norfolk Southern Corp.

The U.S. Coast Guard was responding to the accident along with the DEP.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.