NTSB: Concerns Over Bridge Raised Day Before Derailment - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

NTSB: Concerns Over Bridge Raised Day Before Derailment

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The effects of a Friday morning train derailment in Paulsboro can still be seen Monday. The effects of a Friday morning train derailment in Paulsboro can still be seen Monday.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say there were 23 "trouble tickets" that were written for the bridge where a train derailed Friday morning.

According to the NTSB, nine of the trouble tickets were written since the end of October.

The tickets detail a range of issues, from light bulbs that needed to be replaced, to problems with the bridge's locking mechanism.

One ticket, according to the NTSB, was written just a day before the derailment. In that case, the NTSB says the train crew noted the bridge was four inches shy of being locked and closed.

The NTSB announced their findings during a Monday afternoon press conference.

Investigators say it will still be some time before they know what caused the 84 car train to derail.

Conrail supervisors inspected the bridge and made adjustments and four additional trains even passed over the bridge without any problems.

On the day of the derailment, the NTSB says the train came to a proper stop at the red signal before crossing the bridge.

Train operators waited seven minutes and walked onto the bridge before getting approval to cross. Shortly after, the NTSB says the train received a "failure to operate" alert.

The NTSB says the first cars made it across the bridge before the derailment occurred.

Investigators are still waiting to examine the bridge.

The area around the derailment is still feeling the effects. Students in Paulsboro spent the day at home or in hotels with their families as high levels of chemicals are still in the air.

On Monday night, school board officials announced school would be canceled through the rest of this week, Tuesday through Friday.

The emergency response team has planned a public meeting in the cafeteria of Paulsboro High School on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

One hundred people remain evacuated in the immediate area where the train derailment occurred. Officials have asked residents even outside the evacuation area to stay indoors.

Stay with FOX 29 and myfoxphilly.com for updates.

FOX 29 and myfoxphilly.com has updated this story throughout the day. You can ready our previous updates below.

UPDATE @ 1:00 P.M.: NTSB Releases More Details On Bridge History:

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman briefed the media regarding the Paulsboro train derailment.  This briefing focused on the history of the Conrail bridge.  

Some of the key details released are below:

 - the bridge is always in an open to marine traffic from March 1 - December 1.  when open, the signal is RED.

 - the bridge was inspected following Hurricane Sandy.   Nothing exceptional was noted.

 - On November 29, at 3:17 am, a train crew called in a trouble ticket stating that the bridge did not fully close.that crew keyed in special code and was eventually able to cross

 - a crew came out to make adjustments.  the bridge was closed.

 - the last train to cross the bridge before the accident had a green signal and crossed the bridge at 11:15pm.  10 minutes later a call came in that the "bridge failed to operate."

 - the day of the accident, the train was traveling and came to a proper stop at the red signal.  the bridge was closed.  the train waited 7.5 minutes - a train operator had to get out and walk the bridge.  he returned and called info in.  He got the go ahead to cross.   The first cars made it across the bridge and then the accident occurred. 

The NTSB is waiting to go down to the accident site and continue their investigation.


UPDATE @ 9:00 A.M.: U.S. Coast Guard Pulls Crews Away From Crash Site Due To Poor Air Quality:

 The U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference to address the media and inform the public about the elevated levels in the air surrounding the train derailment.    Due to these elevated levels, the decision has been made to pull all workers, local officials and responders away from the crash site.  

As a precautionary measure, the Paulsboro Fire chief has ordered a city-wide "Shelter In Place" order.  This means that city residents have to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed.  All schools in the city are closed.  

Officials are not sure what is causing these elevated levels. 

The evacuation order is in place until December 8th.

Additionally, Paulsboro residents who have questions about the evacuation zone or health related questions about their exposure to vinyl chloride are being told they should contact the a Public Assistance Center at 1-800-230-7049.

The center is located at the Paulsboro Volunteer Fire Department, located at 1502 Swedesboro Avenue. It's operational from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Freeholder Director Robert Damminger announced in a news release that a physician from the American Red Cross is at the center and can answer health-related questions regarding the incident. Conrail representatives are also staffing the center.

The county is placing message boards throughout Paulsboro to keep residents informed on where to call for information or any changes in the status of the evacuation zone.

UPDATE @ 7:30 A.M.: Due to rising unsafe levels in the air, all Paulsboro Public Schools are closed until further notice.

Federal investigators say Conrail crews had reports of signal problems "weeks" before Friday's train derailment and chemical leak in Paulsboro.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board say they were studying the problem the day before the crash.

The issue they're looking into is the red light displayed on the bridge alerting the train if it's safe to cross.

They say conductors were given the "OK" by dispatch.

"We do have some indication that there are some crews who in the days prior reported that there were some issues with this bridge," said NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman.

Whether or not the derailment could have been prevented remains to be seen.

Crews are working to remove vinyl chloride from Mantua Creek. Officials cannot examine the scene until those chemicals are pumped out.

More than one hundred residents have been evacuated from their homes in the wake of the incident and officials say they won't be allowed back until at least Saturday.

FOX 29's Stephanie Esposito reported live Monday morning from Paulsboro with the latest.

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