Truck carrying corrosive chemical overturns in Arizona, prompts evacuations and shelter-in-place orders

February 15, 2023

Some residents of the Tucson area in Arizona were ordered to evacuate while others were urged to shelter in place after a semi-truck carrying a corrosive chemical overturned and spilled its hazardous load, Breitbart reported.

The accident prompted the closure of Interstate 10 in both directions while crews worked to contain and clean up the spilled chemical load.

Accident involving hazardous materials

According to a series of updates from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, an accident involving a commercial truck with a box trailer carrying liquid nitric acid that rolled over in the median of I-10 occurred shortly before 3 pm local time on Tuesday.

Within hours, the Unified Command -- comprised of the ADPS, Tucson Fire, and Tucson Police -- had evacuated all residents within a half-mile of the scene and ordered all residents within a one-mile radius to shelter in place.

"Temporary setbacks overnight"

Containment and clean-up efforts initially seemed to go well, and a now retracted update about the evacuation being lifted by the morning was issued shortly after 11 pm, but then there was apparently a set-back overnight as "gassing" occurred while crews attempted to remove the hazardous chemical load from the overturned trailer, per the ADPS.

That led to a reinstatement of the shelter-in-place order -- initially for a one-mile radius, now expanded to a three-mile radius -- and residents within that zone were advised to turn off any air conditioners or heating units that draw in outside air, and those orders were expected to remain in place until at least mid-day on Wednesday.

"Recovery and mitigation efforts on the hazardous materials experienced temporary setbacks overnight due to weather conditions. Crews have now removed the material from the truck and are utilizing dirt to mitigate further off-gassing. Interstate 10 remains closed in both directions between Kolb and Rita roads in Tucson," the ADPS said in the latest update.

Nitric acid a "highly corrosive" and dangerous chemical

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nitric acid is a "colorless liquid with yellow or red fumes" and an "acrid odor" that is used for manufacturing dyes, explosives, fertilizer, and polymers.

The CDC warns, "Exposure to nitric acid can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane; it can also cause delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion. Nitric acid is highly corrosive. Workers may be harmed from exposure to nitric acid."

Driver deceased

This is a bad accident involving a hazardous material that risks the health and safety of not just the first responders and clean-up crews but also all residents and pets within the surrounding area.

Hopefully, there will be no further setbacks in the efforts to address this mess and nobody other than the unfortunate driver who is deceased, per ADPS, will suffer serious health repercussions because of it.

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