Paulsboro businesses sue over 2012 train derailment

 Freight train tank cars that derailed in Nov 2012 are seen in Mantua Creek in Paulsboro, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Freight train tank cars that derailed in Nov 2012 are seen in Mantua Creek in Paulsboro, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Small businesses are the latest to sue over last year’s train derailment in Paulsboro, N.J.

The businesses are suing Conrail after half a dozen freight cars derailed off a bridge over Mantua Creek last November. One tanker leaked vinyl chloride gas, causing more than 300 homes to be evacuated.

Luaie Alhardan, owner of Lou’s Auto Shop, says that although he wasn’t evacuated, the accident damaged his customer base.

“[My house] was borderline for evacuation,” he said. “So I never got evacuated but losing all these people that lived in town and went out of town. And then you have outsiders who wouldn’t come into town after that happened. That cost us a lot of money.”

Alhardan is also concerned about the potential health problems he and his family will experience because of the vinyl chloride gas leak.

“I’ve been to the doctor. I’ve had problems breathing and I just want to make sure that later on this doesn’t cause any cancer stuff.  That it doesn’t harm us down the line, that’s all I want to make sure of,” he said.

As far as his business, Alhardan is sure the accident drove people away, and he is looking to regain some of his losses with the lawsuit.

“The damage is already done. You can’t make up for lost time and the general public would rather stay away from here after this incident,” he said

Conrail did not respond to a request for comment, but it did file a court document replying to some of the lawsuits.   The company said the plaintiffs have not proven that ongoing medical monitoring is necessary.

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.