By David Madden
PAULSBORO, NJ (CBS) – Evacuated Paulsboro residents waiting for an answer about when they can go home will have to wait a while longer. The Coast Guard has made significant progress in dealing with last week’s Conrail derailment and chemical spill, but not enough to sound the all clear. And no one’s quite sure when that’ll happen.
They’ve cleared the breached rail car of all traces of vinyl chloride. The air’s been clean for two days. But, Coast Guard Captain Kathy Moore, in charge of the cleanup, can’t pinpoint a date and time when evacuees will be back in their homes.
“Until I have a community where the site — the source has been completely dealt with and the community has been completely measured free for a period of time of vinyl chloride — that is the only time the Unified Command is going to be comfortable saying it’s safe for people to come back in their homes.”
In fact, there’ll have to be a full day of clean air after all five derailed cars carrying the chemical are deemed safe before people go home.
And even after that, it won’t be over. Coast Guard Captain Kathy Moore says, “We’re going to be air monitoring inside those homes that were evacuated. In other words, when residents return, they will be able to have that air in their home tested.”
Officially, the evacuation order is in place until Sunday, but that (like every other part of this incident) is subject to change.