(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
Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Local

Police look for man suspected of threatening Muslim…

Police seek man suspected of calling a teen Muslim girl a "terrorist" and spitting on her multiple times while on a Queens bus.

The Word

Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg are engaged

If Donnie Wahlberg wants to get vaccinated against anything, he should do it soon: he and Jenny McCarthy are engaged, she just announced on "The View."

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 16: 'The Americans,'…

'The Americans' Philip and Elizabeth face "painful turns" in their missions. Maybe next week they'll have a nice easy mission with no moral ambiguity? Probably…

Movies

Curtain raiser: The Tribeca Film Festival arrives this…

The Tribeca Film Festival begins its two-week run in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, boasting dozens and dozens of films of all stripes.

Movies

Review: 'Bears' is a cute Disney doc about…

Disney's latest nature doc, "Bears," doesn't completely shy away from the fact that its subjects would devour you (or eachother) if they had the chance.

NHL

Islanders back to rebuilding mode after disappointing season

One season after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Islanders finished 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.