By Michael Muskal
11:53 AM EST, November 30, 2012
Residents of three southern New Jersey towns were told to stay indoors and 18 people were treated for exposure after a bridge collapsed Friday, causing a freight train to derail and release a potentially hazardous chemical, officials said.
Three train cars dropped from the bridge into a creek in Paulsboro in Gloucester County at about 7 a.m. and were leaking, according to the statement that authorities e-mailed to reporters.
At least one of the cars that fell into the creek is believed to have contained vinyl chloride, which can cause dizziness and harm breathing. The cargo in the other cars was unknown.
The statement said the bridge collapsed but also said the cause of the accident will be investigated.“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,” said Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert Damminger in the e-mail. “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.”
Eighteen people with respiratory issues reported to Underwood Memorial Hospital, mainly complaining of sore throats and breathing problems, officials said.
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