Work crews used a 150-ton crane today to remove a tank car that was breached and leaked its toxic contents when it fell into Mantua Creek off a failed railroad bridge in Paulsboro Nov. 30.

A Conrail spokesman announced the operation early this evening.

The car, one of four that ended up in the water, was carrying toxic vinyl chloride, some of which escaped into the air as a gas and forced the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents for days.

Cleanup crews finally removed the chemical from the car three days ago. Three other tank cars are still in the waterway.

A Coast Guard spokesman said the broken car was lifted out and put on a barge.

A "unified command," led by the Coast Guard, has hired Weeks Marine, a marine construction and dredging company, to remove the cars.

Weeks Marine is the same company that salvaged the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in 2009.

In the coming days, workers will continue to try to remove the three other derailed rail cars, two of which contain vinyl chloride and one ethanol.

Removing the breached car was the first priority. Last week, responders neutralized and removed the hazardous chemical that was in the breached car, eventually clearing the way for hundreds of evacuees to return home from several days in temporary housing. Residents of 10 houses near the site are still being kept away.

Contact Andrew Seidman at 856-779-3846, aseidman@phillynews.com, or @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.