Authorities estimate more than 12,000 gallons of vinyl chloride were released into Mantua Creek near Philadelphia after a freight train derailment, according to the Chicago Tribune. The chemical is highly toxic and was spilled while the train was crossing a rail bridge.
Maintenance work on the rail bridge had been performed just one day before the accident. The conductor was unable to communicate with the bridge via radio before getting permission from a company dispatcher to cross.
Schools in downstream Paulsboro, New Jersey were closed as a precaution after an air monitoring station picked up the hazardous chemical. Exposure to vinyl chloride is known to cause burning sensations in the eyes and respiratory discomfort.
The train was operated by Conrail, a company jointly owned by CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern. Four train cars were still in the waterway as of Monday night.
Image: Train derailment in Paulsboro, N.J. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)