Truck hauling chemicals crashes into creek off I-30
Section of road closed more than 5 hours after trailer left dangling over guardrail
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

An 18-wheeler ran off of Interstate 30 Monday night, taking out a guardrail before the truck crashed into a creek bed. Hazardous materials teams were called out after it was learned the truck was hauling chemicals that, if combined, could have formed a toxic chemical vapor cloud. 
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Feb. 7, 2006 -- A section of eastbound Interstate 30 was closed to traffic for more than 5 hours overnight after an 18-wheeler carrying hazardous chemicals went over the guard rail between the 139 and 140 mile markers and landed in a creek on the south side of the road.

The driver of the truck was trapped inside the cab of the semi after it was crushed into the creek embankment. Pickton-Pine Forest firefighters used their rescue tools to extricate the driver, who was "relatively” unharmed, according to Hopkins County Fire Chief Carl Nix.

Meanwhile, the box trailer containing 35 five-gallon containers of chemicals dangled over the guardrail.

The vehicle was transporting protective coating silicone solvent and RTZ primer solvent, both moderately flammable materials produced by Dow Chemical Company. If mixed in vapor form, the chemicals could react to form a toxic chemical cloud,  according to Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle, who assisted Fire Chief Carl Nix, also the county's emergency operations coordinator, at the scene overnight Monday.

Motorists first reported the crash to emergency dispatchers at 10:55 p.m. Monday. Brinker, Saltillo and Pickton--Pine Forest firefighters along with ambulance crews, state troopers and sheriff's deputies, were sent to the scene. 

Hopkins County's hazardous materials team was also activated after it was learned the truck was hauling chemicals. The haz-mat team was also needed because of the large quantity of diesel fuel in the truck — between 200 and 300 gallons — which spilled into the ditch and edge of the creek, Caudle said.

Fuller's towing service was able to help contain the spread of the diesel fuel to a small area. Substances were used to help absorb the fuel and to dam the area to prevent it from contaminating more than a small area of the creek and embankment around the cab, according to the fire investigator.

Once the haz-mat team arrived, crew members in protective gear entered the rear of the truck and were able to determine that the 5-gallon containers holding the two chemicals were undamaged.

Caudle contacted Dow Chemical's 24-hour hotline to notify them of the incident and to learn about the substances and potential danger should the containers be damaged as the trailer was moved.

"Our main concern was what would happen if the two chemicals mixed," Caudle explained. "The reaction, we learned, would be a toxic vapor cloud. That was our main concern."

As an extra precaution, that section of Interstate 30 east was closed until the area as cleared of debris around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, with eastbound traffic detoured from the Interstate down U.S. Highway 67. State troopers, volunteer firemen, highway department workers and sheriff's deputies also were prepared to shut down the westbound lane of Interstate 30 and detour it should the situation turn dangerous, Nix said.

Como and Dike fire departments were also placed on standby to assist with traffic control if the westbound lanes of I-30 had to be shut down. Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services also had an ambulance crews stationed near the scene, and Hopkins County Salvation Army provided refreshment and rehabilitation services for the crews during the incident.

Fuller's Towing Service was able to lift both the cab and trailer off the side of the road and ditch and remove it without incident. The wreckage was moved to the towing company's Sulphur Springs location, to await removal by Dow Chemical representatives later Tuesday, Nix said.

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