Paulsboro residents allowed to return home

December 7, 2012 9:15:08 PM PST
Residents living in Paulsboro, New Jersey were finally allowed to return home, one week after a train wreck and chemical spill.

"This is my biggest Christmas present; being back home," said Marie Killmer.

Christmas came early for the Killmer family of 8. They got word Friday afternoon that after a week, they were finally allowed to return home.

"It's just been a rough week. We are really excited to go back to our house," said Marie Killmer.

Hours later, grandchild Summerlynn was happily reunited with her kitten.

The family unpacked their bags and their cleaning supplies with plans to shampoo the rugs and furniture to clear the air.

"Because if any chemicals got in the house; I got little ones and don't want them getting sick. I just want to feel safe," said Kilmer.

Feeling safe won't happen overnight. Concerns linger as crews at the scene of the train derailment continue to remove vinyl chloride-filled tankers from the site.

First residents went to the Paulsboro Fire House to fill out paperwork then they were escorted by a police officer and a technician.

Officials brought in 65 police officers from surrounding communities to help.

"It's a little bit of a concern, but I'm glad to be back home," said Terry Smith.

Crews tested the air quality in each home before letting people return.

An all clear is all Eugene Camp wanted to hear after a very stressful week.

"They closed my shop. I've been out of work and out of my house since Friday," said Camp.

Camp is one of many people relying on a good night's sleep to help them emotionally and mentally bounce back.

"I'll feel much better tomorrow morning," he said.

Into the night, one-by-one, evacuees got the news they had been waiting for.

Some were overjoyed and not afraid to show it.

"Hallelujah!"

Anyone with lingering health concerns are asked to call 857-599-5154. That line will be manned by health professionals.

Many residents have been out of their homes since last Friday, when a freight train derailed rupturing a tanker full of vinyl chloride.

More than 70 people were hospitalized and hundreds were evacuated.

Residents were not allowed into their homes until an air sample indicated no presence of harmful vapors and so far, they've been getting the all clear.

"For several days we've had zero readings of vinyl chloride at the site an in the community," said Captain Kathy Moore of the U.S. Coast Guard.

It has been a long, difficult week for the town and many including Mayor Jeffery Hamilton, complain that they've been kept in the dark.

"Now, communication is a lot better than it was because they weren't communicating to the community and that was the biggest problem," said Mayor Hamilton.

The paths of communication are open but some residents still aren't feeling very secure.

A few of the tankers still in the water are filled with vinyl chloride and there is a danger that one of them might rupture as it's being moved.

"I live right there in front of everything. I don't understand how we're going home and there's still a tanker in the water. What if they try to pull it out and it explodes. What are they going to do about that?" said Yasmeen Stafford.

Meanwhile the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the derailment continues.

Earlier Friday, the NTSB said it has completed the on-site portion of their inquiry into a wreck.

The NTSB says it will have a preliminary report completed in about two weeks.


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