Congressmen Discuss When Paulsboro Residents Can Return

U.S. Reps. Patrick Meehan, Rob Andrews and Frank LoBiondo gathered Thursday to offer an update on cleanup efforts near the site of the train derailment

In the midst of a huge clean-up, U.S. Reps. Patrick Meehan, Rob Andrews and Frank LoBiondo gathered early Thursday for a news conference to update the public on cleanup efforts at the Paulsboro train derailment site.

The congressmen weren't able to give a date that Paulsboro residents will be allowed to return home, but did say a decision will be made when there is a 24-hour period of zero readings of vinyl chloride.

"They want to be absolutely sure that the air they are breathing is safe and the water they are drinking is safe," said Rep. Andrews.

The New Jersey DEP is monitoring the air quality and reports are looking good, with no evidence of vinyl chloride in the air as of Thursday morning.

At the news briefing, the congressmen laid out three steps that need to be done to clean up the hazardous material. They say acetone will need to be pumped in to neutralize the vinyl chloride so that it's no longer toxic.

The second step will be to inspect four other tanks to make sure there is no breach, and the third step will be to remove all the tanks from Paulsboro with a barge that is ready and waiting on the Mantua Creek.

The Coast Guard and NTSB are working to figure out exactly what happened.

"I think red lights mean stop," said Rep. Andrews. "And one of the main questions here is why there is ever a protocol in place when a conductor sees a red light on a bridge and moves forward."

Rep. Meehan is on the House Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. He talked about not drawing conclusions until the final NTSB report is released.

The congressmen discussed the issues there have been with getting information out to the public and say the people of Paulsboro are the top priority.

"Our hearts go out to them for the stress they have suffered, the economic loss they have suffered and the emotional trauma," said Rep. Andrews.

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