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Arizona hazmat spill prompts freeway closing

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
February 15, 2023

Interstate 10 in the metro Tucson, Arizona area was shut down in both directions on Tuesday because of a hazmat hazard.

At approximately 2:45p.m., a commercial truck pulling a box trailer crashed and rolled over, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The truck was carrying the hazardous material nitric acid, which was in liquid form and leaked out of the vehicle.

Unified Command team in Arizona formed, takes action

A Unified Command team was formed, which included the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Tucson Police Department and Tucson Fire Department.

Residents have been alerted by area officials to expect an "extensive" closure of Interstate 10 in both directions, according to The Hill.

The closure impacts the area between Rita and Kolb roads in Tucson, and drivers will need to find an alternate route, according to Fox News.

The driver of the truck is dead.

Residents within a half-mile perimeter of the accident were advised to either shelter in place or evacuate.

All faculty and students at the University of Arizona, including those at Science & Tech Park were included in the evacuation order, according to  the New York Post.

Health risks of sheltering in place rather than evacuating

Those who chose to shelter in place were initially advised to turn off any heaters or air conditioners that filter outside air indoors.

Nitric acid is generally used in fertilizers and in products used to clean metals.

Fumes from nitric acid cause choking, coughing, low blood pressure and shortness of breath to name a few side effects, according to Medline Plus.

It can also cause acute respiratory distress, according to the National Library of Medicine, and the Mayo Clinic.

The Unified Command team is anticipating that those who were evacuated may be able to return to their homes by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Hazardous chemical incident in Ohio prompts health concerns

This incident follows a train derailment in Palestine, Ohio eleven days ago, which involved hazardous chemicals.

The fiery derailment prompted an evacuation of residents for fear of an explosion, but was lifted on Feb. 8th, according to Chemical & Engineering News.

The cause of that crash is believed to be due to an overheated wheel bearing that ultimately failed, according to The National Transportation Safety Board.

Residents have expressed concerns about the long-term impact to livestock, pets, the air, and the water supply, as well as several other concerns, according to AP News.

Palestine's  Mayor Trent Conaway announced that there will be an informational town hall meeting on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in the East Palestine High School auditorium, according to KDKA