Officials are trying to figure out what caused a freight train to derail late Wednesday night, flipping three fully loaded cars of liquid carbon dioxide less than a mile north of Route 15 and Houses Corner Road, Sparta Police reports.
Sgt. John-Paul Beebe said New York Susquehanna & Western Railway officials told Sparta Police that at about 11:31 p.m., one of its trains had just left the Linde North America plant on Demarest Road. Suddenly, for reasons presently unknown, the three cars—measuring a total of 170 feet and having a combined weight of 395 tons—jumped the track and tumbled down a small embankment.
There were no injuries reported, Beebe said, adding that the Sparta Fire Department was on scene until it was determined that there was no imminent threat of a Hazmat situation.
The possibility of threat was real: Beebe explained that cans of refrigerated carbon dioxide—which is used to freeze food, give fizz to beverages, control chemical reactions and extinguish fire—can rupture violently and take off like a rocket when exposed to excessive heat.
Linde North America, a global gases and engineering company with its U.S. base in New Providence, manufactures and supplies industrial, specialty and medical gases as well as related equipment across the region.