Clean up could take several days in South Jersey train chemical spill

New Jersey authorities are blaming the failure of an old-style swing rail bridge for a freight train derailment that sent at least two cars into a Gloucester County creek and caused a leak of hazardous gas.

Reporter Amy Quinn is covering the story live on Twitter.

More than a dozen people reported breathing problems after the accident in Paulsboro early Friday morning and were being examined at a hospital.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who is serving as spokesman for the town, says the rail bridge apparently buckled, just as it did during a derailment in 2009. The bridge was rebuilt in 2010.

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State environmental officials say only one of the cars leaked any gas. It was carrying vinyl chloride and all if it has since dissipated into the air. At high levels of exposure it can cause breathing problems, dizziness and nausea.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to the scene. A floating crane now in New York has been dispatched to help pull the train cars out of the water. 

Gloucester Office of Emergency Management confirmed to NBC10 that a Conrail trail derailed on a Conrail Bridge — for the second time in less than four years — just after 7 a.m. Friday near Commerce Street in Paulsboro, Gloucester County.

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TV helicopter footage shows at least two tankers in Mantua Creek and one hanging over a trestle, part of which is seemingly collapsed. The creek empties into the Delaware River just across from Philadelphia International Airport.

The Environmental Protection Agency says short-term exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

The Gloucester County Times says 18 people are reported to be having difficulty breathing.

Schools in the area were reportedly locked down during the incident.

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