By Steve Tawa

PAULSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — The number of legal claims against Conrail by Paulsboro residents could jump several times higher. In the days after the November 30th chemical accident, 54 residents filed a lawsuit. But, the legal team handling their claims says it could grow to over 400.

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Assemblyman John Burzichelli says small businesses owned and operated by people who live in the small borough are still trying to recover, because the regulars have been slow to return.

“A handful of customers going somewhere else can make a difference in their bottom line,” he says. “Having that routine interrupted is not helpful.’

Phil Weiss’ hardware store along West Broad Street has been family-run for 80 years.

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“Our early sales results from December are down significantly from the year before,” Weiss explained.

Attorney Mark Cuker’s Cherry Hill and Philadelphia law firm handles chemical exposure litigation.

“We’ve been retained by hundreds of additional residents to represent them in potential claims,” Cuker says.

Cuker contends the public information that came out after the vinyl chloride spill, and follow-up testing, including the equipment that was used, were faulty.

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“At least for a significant period that first day, there was a significant exposure,” Cuker said.