NTSB Issues Findings on Paulsboro Train Derailment that led to Hazardous Materials Release

On July 29, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report on a train derailment at Paulsboro Bridge in New Jersey, in which a tank car was breached and 20,000 gallons of vinyl chloride were released. In addition to identifying the cause of the derailment, the NTSB report cited problems in the emergency response to the crash.

Specifically, the NTSB found that:

  • The incident commander did not follow established protocols to protect workers and the community.
  • The trainmaster did not immediately provide the train consist, delaying the identification of the hazardous material released.
  • Once the vinyl chloride was identified, the incident commander did not instruct first responders to wear protective equipment or maintain a safe distance from the accident site.

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB issued 20 safety recommendations, including several related to emergency response. One of the NTSB recommendations was for the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to, “Notify your membership about the circumstances of this accident and develop a plan to incorporate into ongoing training curricula lessons learned concerning the need to promptly use adequate data collection and analysis tools and to develop and implement community protective measures for mitigating the threats of hazardous materials.”

Click here to read a synopsis from the NTSB’s report.