The Richmond Register

July 8, 2013

Chemical spill from truck wreck closes interstate Sunday night

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

MADISON COUNTY — Northbound Interstate 75 at mile marker 78 near Berea was blocked for six hours Sunday night after a tractor-trailer carrying chemicals rear-ended another semi.

The collision occurred at 8 p.m. and all northbound lanes were blocked until 2 a.m., according to Madison County Emergency Management Agency Director Carl Richards.

The tractor-trailer that was struck contained 40,000 pounds of flavored carbonated water. However, the semi that rear-ended it was carrying two powdered chemicals called hydated alumnia, Richards said.

“The biggest (health) threat was inhalation” of the powdered substance, Richards said.

Hydrated alumnia has a variety of uses, but Richards said information provided by the trucking company seemed to indicate the chemicals were going to be used in factory metal processing.

The truck carrying the chemicals was headed to Pennsylvania.

Workers were at the scene until 2 a.m. cleaning up the spilled materials, and all lanes and the shoulder of northbound I-75 were closed until then.

About half of the truck’s 43,000-pound load of hydrated alumnia spilled onto the roadway.

Workers first had to scoop up as much of the flour-like substance as they could into plastic bags. Next, they had to deal with the spilled oil, gasoline and other liquids on the roadway, according to Richards.

In order to do that, they used a substance called “oil dry” to absorb the liquids, then scooped that off the road.

The workers next used a power broom attached to a skid steer to scrub the northbound lanes. The semis were towed to a safe location until the trucking companies could deal with the wreckage, Richards said.

Finally, the workers did spot-cleaning on areas that still appeared slick. Afterward, the Berea Fire Department flushed the roadway with water.

The Berea Police Department provided law enforcement at the scene but did not have information immediately available about the cause of the accident or if the truck occupants suffered any injuries.

The Kentucky Environmental Protection Agency response team was on site as technical advisors.

About two dozen people from a variety of response agencies were involved with the cleanup, Richards said.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.