Statement from Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert Damminger
regarding the Conrail bridge collapse in Paulsboro
“There are many agencies involved in today’s event. The priority of course is the health and safety of our residents and the impact on our environment,” stated Freeholder Director Damminger. “As we learn of information we will be sharing it. Gloucester County has all of its assets on the ground and will continue to work to protect our citizens.”
Due to the Conrail bridge collapse near East Jefferson Street the County has been apprised that by its Harzardous Materials team that:
3 cars overturned into the Mantua Creek and were leaking;
1 is identified to be carrying Vinyl Chloride;
2 of the cars’ chemicals are unknown
A decon unit has been positioned in the field
An Environmental Company has been called out to the scene by CSX to place booms in the creek.
18 people with respiratory issues have reported to Underwood Memorial Hospital (in follow-up with the hospital, most are sore throats);
Gloucester County Health Dept. has reached out to UMH to inquire into any need for additional nursing/other support
Gloucester County HazMat Team and HazMat Team from PRC Refinery are doing metering and monitoring.
The County Office of Emergency Management has issued a Shelter in Place activation and school children are sheltered in place in Paulsboro; East Greenwich; and West Deptford.
The County has all available and appropriate Emergency Responders on the scene.
The County Health Department has closed its Paulsboro WIC office for the day and summoned staff back to the building main building in Washington Township.
Facts About Vinyl Chloride
What is Vinyl Chloride?
* Vinyl Chloride is a manufactured substance that does not occur naturally
* Used to make PVC which is used in a variety of common plastic products such as pipes, cable coatings, packing materials etc.
* Also known as Chloroethene, Chloroethylene, ethylene monochloride
* Colorless gas
* Has mild, sweet odor
* Burns easily is not stable at high temperatures
* Is heavier than air and can travel along the ground
How are people exposed to vinyl chloride?
* Most cases of vinyl chloride exposure occur in the workplace (plastic industries, hazardous waste sites, landfills)
* Exposure can occur through breathing, skin contact. People can also be exposed by drinking or cooking with contaminated water.
How can Vinyl Chloride affect my health?
* Exposure may cause eye or throat irritation, headache, shortness of breath.
* Breathing high levels of Vinyl Chloride can cause dizziness and/or sleepiness
* Breathing very high levels can cause loss of consciousness
* Breathing extremely high levels can cause death
Can a Medical Test determine exposure to vinyl chloride?
* Vinyl chloride can be found in urine and body tissue after recent exposures.
* Seek medical advice if you think you have any symptoms related to chemical exposure