Six days after the Paulsboro, New Jersey train derailment, spilling the dangerous vinyl chloride chemical into the air, prompting the evacuation of several hundred residents, rushing many to the hospital and closing of public schools –Governor Chris Christie has been missing in action.
Governor Christie has not publicly addressed his administration’s involvement in the ongoing situation, or has expressed any concern for Paulsboro residents. Although no deaths or serious injuries have been reported, it is yet too early to tell if the negative effects of the spilled vinyl chloride will surface in the long term.
Shanell White a resident of Paulsboro expressed concern for her and her children, after learning that schools were once again closed, saying that on Friday, the day of the accident, they rushed to the hospital due to the children’s burning eyes and heavy coughing. John Benney, an auto shop owner says his shop’s business has been significantly impacted since the derailment, saying the whole town is being affected by the aftermath.
[ Related: Paulsboro residents concern outside evac zone ]
Conrail; owners and operators of the tracks responded to a report of rail alignment problems the day prior to the toxic derailment. Debra Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that on that day two Conrail supervisors spent two hours inspecting and adjusting the rails on the bridge, then clearing it for operation — the next morning, only a few train cars cleared the bridge before giving way and derailing seven others, proving that band aiding these infrastructural problems don’t seem to be the answer for avoiding future larger scale Paulsboro like incidents. Undoubtedly an infrastructure mishap, it was not the first time it occurred — a prior coal train derailment in 2009 was also reported.
[ Related: New Jersey bridge was adjusted day before train derailed, NTSB says ]
Mike DeLacey, President of Microdesk Inc. providing world class business and technology consulting services helping firms successfully plan, design, build and operate land and buildings, continues to address and carry the message of a stronger and safer U.S. infrastructure stating;
“As we continue to see a lack of investment and substantial proposed cuts in infrastructure spending, coupled with a low level of urgency from our leaders in addressing the general state of disrepair of our nation’s infrastructure, the more commonplace tragedies like the New Jersey bridge collapse will become. It is not enough to continually make quick repairs after major disasters, as was done with this same bridge back in 2009; we need a nationwide commitment.”
With the per capita income of Paulsboro at $21,061 much lower than the state average of $34,858 and lower than the national average of $27,334 Governor Christie could be inadvertently sending the wrong message to its low income residents, who may feel their town is not worth enough to be addressed by their leader showing no concern for the town’s well being and its resident’s health.
The spilled vinyl chloride’s potentially life threatening damage caused by the Paulsboro derailment, may not be at the top of Governor Christie’s list of priorities, with Sandy’s aftermath remaining his main focus — however, this could be a glimpse into future far worse fatal infrastructural scenarios in the U.S.