With the help of a nearly $3 million federal grant, a South Carolina researcher is beginning to study the long-term health effects of a deadly train wreck and chemical spill in Aiken County in 2005.
University of South Carolina researcher Erik Svendsen said Friday the grant from the National Institute of Health will help him and his team study the long-term effects specifically of millworkers injured in the Graniteville crash.
Svendsen's project, which is called the Graniteville Recovery and Chlorine Epidemiology, or GRACE, study, officially kicks off Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at his headquarters, set up in downtown Graniteville, and free lung screenings and blood pressure tests for people living in the area.
Nine people died and thousands were evacuated from the area when a Norfolk Southern train car carrying chlorine ruptured and released a poisonous cloud over the mill town near the Georgia line on Jan. 6, 2005.
That cloud enveloped the Avondale Mills textile plant, corroding machinery and causing damage from which the Georgia-based company said it could never recover - despite spending more than $140 million on cleaning, repairs and damage mitigation. In 2008, Avondale Mills reached an undisclosed settlement with Norfolk Southern after seeking $420 million in damages in a lawsuit.