Tag Archive: Conrail

Paulsboro’s Double Trouble

In November, 2012, a Conrail train fell off a bridge in Paulsboro, spilling thousands of gallons of toxic vinyl chloride into Mantua Creek and fumes throughout the surrounding area. At the time, first responders were on the scene without protective gear, and children walked home from school in the toxic cloud. Several lawsuits are pending as a result of that debacle.

Now, Paulsboro is being hit again. Recently, Governor Christie pre-empted an $8.9 billion lawsuit that primarily was concerned with Exxon refineries in North Jersey and unilaterally decided to settle for less than 3 cents on the dollar, leaving taxpayers with the burden to remediate those sites. Adding insult to injury, his administration lumped the Paulsboro refinery and several other polluted sites around the state within the same bounds of that settlement.

Today, a group of environmental activists and Paulsboro citizens gathered next to the Exxon site there to protest the governor’s actions.

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network explains in the video below. Additional remarks by activists and residents are below the fold:

How Not to Run a Railroad

promoted by Rosi

This article concerns some events that affect a relatively small number of people in a small corner of Burlington County, but there are lessons to be learned here for any community.

There’s a railroad bridge over Creek Road in Hainesport Township, NJ that is owned by Conrail and is over 100 years old. Near the bridge, there are numerous residences and businesses, and the roads carry 17,000 vehicles per day. Due to its age, the bridge had to be replaced, and that construction is happening now.

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Burlington County Freeholders, several businesspeople came to point out that the management of this bridge reconstruction project has been a fiasco. Although the detours around the construction site are clearly marked, some truck drivers are ignoring the signs and driving through and damaging private property. In other areas near the construction site, barricades are in place that would block or delay first responders access to residences in case of emergency. Residents’ access to public transportation is cut off, making it difficult for people to get to work. Two automobile accidents have already happened in the first week of what has been nominally portrayed as a three-week construction duration. Local businesses are suffering with one businessman stating that his establishment has seen an 80% reduction in the number of customers.

“Tolerance of the Status Quo is Unacceptable”

While Governor Christie is no friend of our infrastructure (unless it is privatized), Senator Robert Menendez has been a vocal proponent for infrastructure investment and the return those investments give us in terms of jobs and economic productivity. He reiterated his views at a press conference today not far from the site of the Paulsboro railroad bridge collapse which spewed toxic material in that town and caused hundreds of families to evacuate their homes.

Menendez pointed out that the bridge that collapsed was built four years after the first transcontinental railroad was completed – hardly a reassuring thought when trains are carrying toxic chemicals through populated areas.

The bridge that collapsed is privately owned, and is not subject to the same stringent inspections and checks and balances that public infrastructure is. Yet, the bridge has been a trouble spot for its owner, Conrail, with several past anomalies that apparently were not remediated properly. Menendez indicated that he will introduce legislation to fix this problem. He said, “Tolerance of the status quo is unacceptable.”

But there will be a time for implementing a long-term solution. Meanwhile, many Paulsboro residents are still out of their homes. They will be able to move back in stages, as explained by Coast Guard Captain Kathy Moore (7:20) in the press conference – video below.

For those in the affected area, a web site has been established to provide the latest information on safety and repatriation. You can find it at www.paulsbororesponse.com.

Below the fold: Two concerns I had going into this press conference, and some (hopefully) reassuring answers.

Toxic Waste Causes Lock Down in Three NJ Towns

This is a developing story, but it appears that our crumbling infrastructure has given us another serious problem. A Conrail bridge, which had been under suspicion by area residents, collapsed – causing a train loaded with toxic vinyl chloride to fall into a creek. Watching the local news chopper’s video, it appears to me that the first responders are not outfitted with HAZMAT suits. Should we be worried about their well-being?