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Witness: Collapsed NJ train bridge problem-plagued

Published On: Jul 09 2013 12:19:14 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 09 2013 02:15:37 PM EDT
New Jersey train derailment

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened two days of hearings into a train derailment in southern New Jersey that caused a noxious gas to be released into the air.

A half dozen rail cars derailed on a bridge on Nov. 30 in Paulsboro. A car containing vinyl chloride was ripped open, releasing the gas.

A Conrail locomotive engineer said the company had many more reports of problems with the railroad bridge in the month before it collapsed than the railroad has acknowledged.


Engineer Mark Mather told a National Transportation Safety Board hearing Tuesday in Washington that train engineers were regularly reporting problems with the bridge, especially its locking mechanism, before the collapse in November.

Conrail's chief engineer, Tim Tierney, insisted there were no more than 24 trouble reports in the year before the collapse, about half of which occurred in the weeks between Superstorm Sandy ravaged the region and the collapse.

NTSB officials said local police and fire officials didn't follow safety standards for handling a chemical spill after tank cars dumped into a creek by the bridge collapse leaked dangerous vinyl chloride.