Train Derailment Releases Dangerous Gas

On Friday, November 30, 2012, a Conrail freight train went off the tracks in Paulsboro, New Jersey. The train was crossing a bridge, and four tanker cars ended up partially in a creek, damaged, and spewing vinyl chloride gas.

Vinyl chloride is a dangerous chemical used to make the common plastic polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). While PVC is stable and safe, the same cannot be said for vinyl chloride. A single high dose exposure to vinyl chloride is enough to cause liver damage. When older methods of manufacturing PVC that exposed workers to vinyl chloride gas were discovered to cause liver cancer the industry switched to a production method that totally eliminates exposure to the noxious chemical.

Over 200 homes were in the area were evacuated after the accident. Many residents reported having trouble breathing or feeling sick after being exposed to the gas. Local resident Saundra Clinton reported the gas triggered asthma attacks that required hospitalization for treatment in two of her children.

A week and a half after the accident some 20 households were still unable to return home.

The first lawsuit in the case has already been filed in a court in Camden. The lawsuit claims that negligence on the parts of Conrail, Norfolk Southern Railway Company and CSX Transportation led to the accident. The plaintiff, Alice Breeman, said that she and her 3 children had coughing and breathing problems; she is also concerned about the long term effects of the exposure to the gas. The lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the accident.

Personal injury lawsuits often involve multiple defendants, and the legal issues can be complicated. If you or a family member has been injured, whether from a train derailment or another cause, contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C.