Frustrated Paulsboro, NJ residents get some answers

December 11, 2012 8:45:04 PM PST
Residents of Paulsboro, N.J. got another chance to meet face-to-face with officials responsible for cleaning up after a devastating train wreck and chemical spill.

A team of federal and state officials outlined their plan to clean up the wreckage over the next few days and weeks.

Paulsboro residents lined up and fired off questions and comments inside Paulsboro High School Tuesday night at a panel of officials responsible for the handling of the toxic train derailment.

"What is going to be done? When will you take responsibility?" demanded one resident.

Most of the concerns were over the evacuation zone and health problems.

"When the stuff is in the air, it's everywhere," said another resident.

For the first time, fire and Coast Guard officials were able show pictures from the morning of the incident and tell those impacted by the derailment why they made certain decisions.

Paulsboro's fire chief admitted there were problems with the boro's reverse 911 system.

But when it came to evacuations, he said, it was about science and who was more at risk.

"I understand the frustration," said Chief Alfonso Giampola. "We tried to build a buffer zone in there and protect as many people as we could, based on the science numbers."

Federal and state agencies made presentations regarding community assistance, continued air monitoring and rail car removal.

The Coast Guard just announced it has started pulling the breached car, which sent vinyl chloride into the air, out of Mantua Creek.

But there's no word on when the evacuation order will be lifted for about 30 homes and businesses.

"Every day we go to bed with headaches, and we wake up with headaches," said resident Mildred Yake. "Our stomachs are killing us. What are they going to do for us? Nothing!"

State officials say canisters like the ones at Paulsboro High have been placed around the boro and they are monitoring the air.

Classes were back in session here and at two other schools in this community.

We have also learned the CDC is in town, and the agency is putting a plan together to reach out to residents who have health concerns.


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