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Updated Information – Well all is not well with the recent New Jersey trail derailment and spill. A more recent USA Today article provides details on the spill and the circumstances leading up to it. I leave it to you to read the article but here are a couple of short points: one tanker’s contents of 180,000 pounds (90 tons) of vinyl chloride have been discharged into the creek that leads into the Delaware River. And the accident seems to have been the result of a bridge failure, possibly an issue of the pilings supporting the bridge. The bridge was rebuilt a few years ago as a result of a rail accident in 2009.

Initial Information – A very recent train derailment in New Jersey near Philadelphia has resulted in the dumping of vinyl chloride in a local creek. Four cars of the 84 car freight train operated by CSX left the track, one of which dumped its contents into the creek. Efforts are still ongoing to retrieve the derailed cars. Local residents have been treated for respiratory issues.

Hopefully this is as bad a situation as we would face in the case of a derailment in Parry Sound – local water contamination and limited human exposure to toxic chemicals. The trouble for us is that we really do depend on a pristine source of water for drinking, sport and tourism. Perhaps we would just get lucky and it would only be a few rail cars carrying imported vehicles that derailed rather than some of the many chemical tankers that pass through town. It’s interesting to note that while trains do contribute less to pollution than trucks hauling similar loads, they have a much higher potential for causing an environmental disaster in urban centres. Trucks rarely travel through towns with these types of heavy loads, and certainly not at high speed.