Hundreds evacuated near Paulsboro derailment site

PAULSBORO, N.J. - November 30, 2012


Residents living near the derailment site, near the intersection of Commerce and East Jefferson Streets, may have thought their problems were over by late afternoon, but the evening brought them an unwelcome surprise.

"They told us to have our bags packed for next three days," said Michelle Cubler.

Police in Paulsboro went door-to-door evacuating residents in a 12-block radius roughly 12 hours after a train derailed and a tanker car carrying vinyl chloride ruptured and leaked fumes into the air.

"My son has a migraine right now. I just give him medication. He says he feels nauseous," said Cubler.

Health and safety concerns are growing Friday night as officials say air testing has detected increased levels of vinyl chloride.

"As daylight comes, the vinyl chloride will go down, but with nightfall the rate slowed," said Lt. Drew Madjeska.

Lt. Drew Madjeska with the U.S. Coastguard says the ordered evacuations are precautionary.

Officials will continue to test the air quality and mist the rail cars with water to help contain the chemicals.

Earlier on Friday, dozens of people including Ron Morris, Jr. of Mantua were treated at Underwood Hospital for symptoms of exposure.

Morris was driving through the contaminated area immediately following the derailment. He was treated and released, but after the sun went down, Morris was transported back to the hospital for a second round of treatment after he started coughing up blood.

His family members are worried that Ron is complaining of chest pains.

"A nurse came in and gave him oxygen. I was just up there, and it sounds like he is breathing funny," said Ron's sister.

A Unified Command consisting of the Coast Guard, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, Paulsboro Fire Department, and Conrail continues to coordinate clean-up and monitor air quality operations.

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