Train Hauling Chemicals Derails, Blocks Major Road for Hours

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Conrail train jumped a track in the Port Richmond section of the city. NBC10's Daralene Jones has the details on the investigation. (Published Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014)

    A freight train hauling hazardous materials derailed this morning at a Philadelphia signal crossing causing a major road to be closed for hours.

    Two rail cars went off the tracks blocking Aramingo Avenue between Castor Avenue and E Butler Street in the Port Richmond section of the city around 3:15 a.m.

    The derailed cars remained blocking the road for hours before they were lifted out of place, the track was repaired and the road was reopened.

    The rail crossing in the industrial/commercial area flashed and bells rang for some time as the derailed nine-car freight train remained in the middle of the road near a ShopRite store for hours.

    Train Derails While Carrying Chemicals

    [PHI] Train Derails While Carrying Chemicals
    A train derails on Aramingo Avenue causing a road block. The train was carrying flammable chemicals and appeared to derail after hitting a crack in the track. (Published Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014)

    There were no injuries and luckily none of the tanker cars overturned or leaked.

    A Conrail spokesman said that it appeared that the tanker cars jumped the rail and landed in the mud after the actual rail cracked. NBC10 cameras captured the cracked rail.

    The spokesman said that the tanker cars were hauling flammable liquids including acetone in two cars and phenol in the rest. Acetone is a common industrial solvent that is harmful if swallowed or inhaled.

    Conrail said nothing leaked during the accident and there was no immediate threat to neighbors in the area.

    Motorists were urged to avoid the area if at all possible as the cleanup continued.

    NBC10's Jillian Mele suggested taking Frankford Avenue or Richmond Street to avoid Aramingo Avenue. She warned however to expect heavier volume on nearby roads.

    The seven cars that remained on the tracks were detached from the derailed cars around 6 a.m. It isn't clear when the remaining derailed cars will be cleared. Heavy equipment was brought in to remove the cars.

    The rail cars were removed just before 9 a.m. but the road remained closed as crews worked to repair the track. About 30 minutes later the road reopened to traffic.

    Conrail crews remained on the scene investigating and making further repairs.

    The track was inspected within the last month, a federal requirement.

    Conrail is owned by Norfolk Southern and CSX, the railroad company that was under scrutiny last month by city council for its safety and maintenance practices.

    "We're going to make sure they are focusing on investing in their infrastructure to make sure incidents don't take place in the future," said Philadelphia city councilman Kenyatta Johnson. "It starts with leadership and although we don't have regulation over our railways, that's not a reason for us to not get involved."

    Another recent train derailment in Philadelphia prompted Johnson to hold hearings about railroad safety in which officials with CSX testified.

    "We have to call them out, through our hearings," Johnson said. "If you're going to do business here in the city of Philadelphia you should be held accountable."

    The Federal Railroad Administration provided NBC10 reports which showed that Conrail was involved in 17 accidents last year, a 55% increase over 2012. The data also shows eight accidents caused by tracks and 14 total derailments, up 39% from 2012.