Federal Officials Blame Conrail for Train Derailment

State and local officials also shared blame from the NSTB for the response to the 2012 derailment that sickened much of Paulsboro.

Image via NTSB

Image via NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board met today to release its report on a train derailment almost two years ago in New Jersey. The blame was placed squarely on Conrail. The NTSB says the train was allowed to attempt to cross the Paulsboro bridge despite a red light showing the rail slide locks were not engaged.

The train was allowed to proceed because Conrail was “relying on a training and qualification program that did not prepare the train crew to examine the bridge lock system,” according to the report. The NTSB also faulted the emergency response to the derailment, which caused a cloud of vinyl chloride to be released into the air. The report says state and local officials, along with Conrail, did not properly prepare first responders for the incident.

An earlier NTSB report said much of Paulsboro was sickened by the release of the dangerous petrochemical.

A spokesperson told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Conrail “fully supports” the NTSB’s “mandate to determine the causes of the derailment and issue safety recommendations at preventing future accidents.” The spokesperson said the company hadn’t read the final report yet.

The derailment, which happened November 30, 2012, caused an estimated $451,000 in equipment damages and $30 million in costs for emergency response and remediation. Conrail is now repairing the Paulsboro bridge. The NTSB issued 20 new recommendations to various groups, including Conrail, the United States Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration, train industry groups and various departments of New Jersey state government.

[NTSB Report | Inquirer]