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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Evacuation Zone Expanded in NJ Toxic Train Derailment

The US Coast Guard has expanded the evacuation zone in Paulsboro NJ (Gloucester County)  following the toxic derailment of a train carrying deadly cancer causing vinyl chloride. Evacuations have been mandatory since last Friday when a movable bridge failed to function and collapsed when a freight train was moving over it.

The National Transportation Safety Administration (NTSB) is co-ordinating an intensive accident investigation. The NTSB reported yesterday that the bridge had problem and that the train engineer contacted a Conrail dispatcher for authorization to cross the bridge even though the bridge signal was red indicating bridge trouble. The NTSB also reported that the bridge was inspected by two Conrail supervisors shortly before the event because of trouble signal being sent by the bridge safety mechanism.

Most vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and vinyl products. Acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride in air has resulted in central nervous system effects (CNS), such as dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches in humans. Chronic (long-term) exposure to vinyl chloride through inhalation and oral exposure in humans has resulted in liver damage. Cancer is a major concern from exposure to vinyl chloride via inhalation, as vinyl chloride exposure has been shown to increase the risk of a rare form of liver cancer in humans. EPA has classified vinyl chloride as a Group A, human carcinogen.
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