By Pat Loeb

PAULSBORO, N.J. (CBS) —  The New Jersey Department of Health says a majority of Paulsboro, NJ residents became ill after a train carrying vinyl chloride derailed there in November 2012 (see previous story).

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Health officials began surveying Paulsboro residents two weeks after the derailment and got responses from nearly 2,000 people — about a third of the town’s population.

They found that more than 1,200 people had suffered headaches, respiratory problems, eye problems, dizziness, or nausea — including 25 who needed emergency treatment and another 100 who sought hospital care.

See other related stories: “Paulsboro Train Derailment”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that the further away from the derailment, the less people were affected.

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The National Transportation Safety Board requested the study and posted it online (.pdf format), but had no comment on it.  A final report on the investigation has not yet been issued.

The derailment closed schools and forced the evacuation of 200 homes for more than a week until the rail cars were removed from Mantua Creek.

Several residents and business owners have sued Conrail, the train’s operator, requesting ongoing medical monitoring as a result of exposure to the chemical.

The freight carrier repaired the faulty bridge that caused the accident but plans to begin work on replacing it this summer.   Conrail declined comment on the NJ health department study.

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