NTSB Releases Final Report on 2012 N.J. Freight Train Derailment

August 28, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report on systemic flaws leading up to a 2012 train derailment that leaked a dangerous gas in southern New Jersey.

The report issued Tuesday was approved by the NTSB last month, and its key findings were made public at that time.

The release gives full details of the Nov. 30, 2012 accident in Paulsboro — in which seven cars derailed, with some falling from a bridge into a creek — and its aftermath. Vinyl chloride, a gas used in industrial processes that has been linked to respiratory problems, dizziness and death — was released into the air.

The safety board faults Conrail for continuing to open and close a swinging bridge where the accident occurred, despite a consultant’s recommendation to keep it closed. The report said a conductor decided to go over the bridge anyway despite not having adequate training to make such a call. It also found problems with the way Conrail and local officials handled the emergency response.

Even before the final report was made public, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez began calling for tougher penalties for railroads found to violate safety standards. Menendez said his proposal was a reaction to the NTSB’s findings.

Last month, Conrail said it was concerned with safety and was taking the recommendations seriously.

Local officials said they are already working on emergency response protocols.

Several people are suing over the spill. A judge this month declined to grant them class-action status.

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