Two surveys of the residents of Paulsboro, N.J., after the 2012 vinyl chloride release showed more than half of them reported new or worsened health effects after the derailment.

Safety Board Determining Cause of Paulsboro Derailment Today

Seven cars in a Conrail freight train derailed Nov. 30, 2012, in Paulsboro, N.J., with one car carrying vinyl chloride ruptured as a result. New Jersey’s Department of Health reported earlier this year that its surveys of residents showed more than half experienced new or worsening health symptoms after the chemical release.

The National Transportation Safety Board's members are meeting July 29 in Washington, D.C., to determine the probable cause of the Nov. 30, 2012, derailment and chemical release in Paulsboro, N.J. Seven cars in a Conrail freight train derailed about 7 a.m. as the train traveled over the Paulsboro Movable Bridge, and four tank cars fell into Mantua Creek. One car carrying vinyl chloride ruptured; Conrail reported about 180,000 pounds of vinyl chloride leaked into the creek and the surrounding area.

An estimated 6,152 people live in Paulsboro, according to a May 2014 report prepared by the State of New Jersey Department of Health. The report summarizes the findings of surveys conducted by NJDOH and ATSDR/CDC on the health effects caused by the chemical release. Based on in-person and mailed surveys, the team concluded more than half of the residents reported experiencing new or worsening health symptoms after the release. Forty people in the in-person survey (9 percent) reported going to a hospital ER, 10 received care from an EMT or paramedic, and 22 others sought medical care elsewhere. In the mailed survey, 15 households (3 percent) reported someone in the household had received care from an EMT or paramedic, 67 reported a household member went to an ER, and 22 reported someone in the household sought care elsewhere.

Health effects reported by the residents included eye irritation, upper respiratory symptoms, coughing, nausea, dizziness, and blurred or double vision.

NTSB issued a preliminary report that indicated initial damage estimates provided by Conrail were $721,114, which did not include environmental remediation. The maximum authorized speed over the 160-foot bridge is 10 mph, and the locomotive’s event recorder data showed the train was traveling 7 mph when it derailed, according to the preliminary report.

The meeting is available as a live webcast. A link to the webcast will be available at this page shortly before the start of the meeting: http://www.capitolconnection.net/capcon/ntsb/ntsb.htm.

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