Passengers ride the AirTrain at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.
Credit: Mario Tama

The derailment of a freight train carrying toxic cargo in Paulsboro, NJ, sent some 70 people to the hospital for treatment of breathing problems, burning eyes or scratchy throats today, the Associated Press reported.

Seven of the train’s freight cars went off the rails on a bridge, and four tankers droppped into Mantua Creek below, CNN reported.

According to the AP:

One tanker containing 25,000 gallons of vinyl chloride was sliced open in the accident and some of the gas spewed into the air, while the rest turned into a solid and settled into the bottom of the tanker.

Not long afterwards, people who live and work nearby reported smoky air and a sweet smell, the AP reported.

Officials placed schools in the area on lockdown temporarily and told residents to stay indoors, CNN reported. Residents of Paulsboro, West Deptford and East Greenwich Township were told it was safe to go outside later in the day, the AP reported.

State environmental officials now say the vinyl chloride in the air has dissipated, CNN reported. “There is no environmental emergency," New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese told CNN.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation to figure out whether a partial bridge collapse caused the derailment or if the bridge collapsed due to the train accident, the AP reported.

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