All clear on I-476 after rig acid spill

July 1, 2009 5:02:40 AM PDT
The ramp connecting the Blue Route northbound and the Schuylkill Expressway has reopened after a tractor trailer carrying hazardous material crashed there Tuesday. The ramp had been closed for about 15 hours before authorities were able to tow the overturned rig from the scene Wednesday morning, reopening the ramp to traffic around 5:15 a.m.

Just as the late afternoon rush was getting underway Tuesday, the tractor trailer overturned.

Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Sean Toboz told Action News, "At approximately 3:00 an accident happened with a tractor trailer heading 476 North onto 76 West. As he was negotiating the turn [the truck] landed on its side."

The driver was transported to Hahnemann Hospital with non-life threatening injuries while emergency teams rushed to the scene.

A placard on the side of the tractor trailer indicated it was hauling something hazardous and the chemical was corroding the side of the truck. Hazmat teams suited up and moved in to determine what was leaking. They determined the truck was carrying 150 containers of a highly erosive, but weak acid - similar to hydrofluoric acid.

Meantime, with the highway ramp shut down, State Police directed motorists around the busy interchange. But inevitably the highway backed up in all directions around the crash scene and right during the evening commute.

Through the night 11 hazmat teams worked to remove the acid from the tractor trailer - taking it out of the existing containers and putting it into new ones.

"Obviously too fast for conditions, even if it was dry conditions it was too fast to go around that turn," said Sgt. Toboz.

Despite the extensive cleanup, PennDOT and hazmat crews were able to clear the scene for the morning rush.

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