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Signal problems preceded NJ train derailment

Derailed freight tracars lay water Paulsboro N.J. Friday Nov. 30 2012. People three southern New Jersey towns were told Friday

Derailed freight train cars lay in water in Paulsboro, N.J., Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. People in three southern New Jersey towns were told Friday to stay inside after the freight train derailed and several tanker cars carrying hazardous materials toppled from a bridge and into a creek. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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Updated: December 1, 2012 12:24PM

PAULSBORO, N.J. — Investigators say there may have been a problem with a signal before train derailed on a New Jersey rail bridge, spewing a hazardous chemical into the air.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman said Saturday that her team has learned that a signal seemed to be malfunctioning at the bridge for the train’s engineer Friday morning.

The engineer called a dispatcher to get permission to cross the bridge despite the signal problems.

Two locomotives and the first five cars made it across safely before seven cars derailed.

Some area residents have been ordered to leave because of risks from chemicals that remain on the train.

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