Evacuation ends for most residents in Paulsboro

The majority of Paulsboro residents evacuated after a chemical spill 11 days ago are back at home.

Speaking this morning on WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, Coast Guard Capt. Kathy Moore said air quality tests have shown the air is safe.

“We’ve had no detections of vinyl chloride in any home or business to date,” she said. As a result nearly 329 families have been allowed back into their homes. Moore said 11 homes closest to the Mantua Creek accident site remain evacuated.

Those residents won’t be allowed back until two remaining rail cars full of vinyl chloride and one holding ethanol are safely removed from the site.

Moore said crews are still in phase two, which means they are bringing everything they need to haul the train cars out of the water and onto barges.

“We’ve repositioned the crane barge into its location now where it’s going to make its first lift,” she said. The first car that will be lifted is the breached car that spewed a vinyl chloride cloud over Paulsboro forcing the original evacuation.

Moore said the company that will lift the wreckage, Weeks Marine, is the same one that pulled U.S. Airways Flight 1549 out the Hudson River in 2009.

One of the extra safety measures that the Coast Guard will use is a special fog machine that could help contain a chemical leak if one occurs during the recovery operation.

“We have what’s called a Neptune system. It is a water fog system. Were there to be any release of vinyl chloride, [it would] water fog the area and help pull the vapors down out of the air and into the water, ” Moore said.

On Nov. 30 a freight train derailed in Paulsboro as it was crossing a bridge over Mantua Creek sending seven cars off the tracks and releasing vinyl chloride.

Paulsboro Mayor W. Jeffery Hamilton and the Paulsboro Borough Council have asked representatives from the Unified Command, which is overseeing the clean-up operations, to update residents on its progress.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Paulsboro.

Community Informational ForumTuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, at 6 p.m.Paulsboro High School670 North Delaware Street

For the latest information online go to PaulsboroResponse.com

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.