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When Chemical Tanker Train Derailed in Paulsboro, So Did Many Lives

Toxic cloud of vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen, has hundreds worried about long-term effects

Credit: Ed Hille
Work crews prepared to hoist the derailed tanker cars from the Mantua Creek in Paulsboro.

It’s been nearly two years since a Conrail train derailed and crashed in Paulsboro, NJ. Four chemical tanker cars overturned and ruptured, sending a toxic cloud into the air and sending 28 people to the hospital.

One of those people was Ronald Morris of Mantua Township, who was sitting in his truck a quarter-mile away from the crash when his vehicle was engulfed by the chemical cloud – which contained vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen.

Now Morris is one of hundreds of people who are still experiencing health problems that they believe are related to the chemical spill. They say the public was not alerted quickly enough about the danger posed by that toxic cloud, and fear that they may develop cancer as a result of their exposure.

Read and listen to the full report by Taunya English of WHYY/NewsWorks, a partner of NJ Spotlight, as she tells the story of Ronald Morris and other Paulsboro-area residents whose lives changed dramatically one morning when a Conrail freight train went off the rails in South Jersey.

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