Rooms reserved at a South Jersey motel for evacuees to protect them from a substance emitted during a train wreck apparently were used by partiers who found themselves arrested for partaking of other substances.
Greenwich Township police say they responded to a disturbance at a Motel 6 on Swedesboro Avenue in the Gibbstown section about 10:28 p.m. Monday. Once there, they were informed of a large party at the motel.
When police arrived, they found 14 rooms had been rented by Conrail for Paulsboro residents displaced by a train derailment Friday that caused a tanker car to release vinyl chloride into the atmosphere.
In one of those rooms, some people apparently found a tempting opportunity to party.
Police arrested 22 people, including six juveniles. All were charged with disorderly conduct.
Additional charges were pending for possession of marijuana, crack cocaine, alcohol and narcotics paraphernalia. More charges could be added for maintaining a nuisance and supplying alcohol to minors.
Most of those arrested were from Paulsboro. But some were from Woodbury, Penns Grove and Philadelphia.
Whether the Paulsboro arrestees were also evacuees, police weren't sure.
"We would not have that list, or know who received the vouchers for the rooms," said Chief Joseph Giordana.
All were released after being issued a summons.
A man answering the phone at the motel said he had no comment and referred all calls to police.
Lisa Driver, a Paulsboro resident who was staying at the motel with her two sons because of the evacuation, said she and those in neighboring rooms started to smell marijuana in the hallways and coming through bathroom vents about 7 p.m.
"As the evening progressed, it started to get more potent," Driver said.
"At approximately 8:30 or 9 o'clock it just got unbearable, it was thick in the hallway," Driver added.
Eventually, she said, someone called the front desk to report it. She credited hotel management with acting swiftly and notifying authorities.
"There were was numerous young people and they looked to be 18 to 20 in age," she said.
Driver said she did not know the people who were arrested.