Residents living within an area of a one-mile radius of a recent truck crash outside of Tucson, Arizona, were commanded to shelter in place this past Tuesday evening after the truck flipped and spilled a large load of nitric acid.
Both directions of Interstate 10 around Kolb Road were shut down as crews of first responders attempted to deal with the situation, as stated in a report from KGUN-TV. The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality is still trying to figure out if the radius for these shelter-in-place orders should be expanded out.
“The Department’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit, along with partner agencies, are working together to mitigate the incident,” explained Raul Garcia Jr., a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, as part of a statement to the Arizona Republic. “Out of an abundance of caution, first responders are working to evacuate a perimeter around the area of the incident.”
The Arizona Department of Public Safety expressed via social media that the group expects an “extensive closure” and called on the residents to “avoid the area.”
Nitric acid is a “colorless liquid with yellow or red fumes with an acrid odor,” according to a report issued by the CDC, and is used to manufacture dyes, explosives, and fertilizers. Exposure to the highly volatile and corrosive liquid can cause “irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane,” along with “delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion.” Pictures posted by the Tucson Fire Department do appear to show obvious yellow and red fumes emanating from the area of the crash site.
This spill in Arizona follows in the wake of a massive train derailment that took place out in Palestine, Ohio, where a malfunctioning axle on a Norfolk Southern train ended up causing the train to crash and start leaking highly volatile industrial chemicals. Officials from both local and state governments ordered the evacuation of all residents living within a one-mile radius of the February 3rd crash site and then dealt with the leaking chemicals by making use of a controlled burn to try and reduce the massive risk of an explosion. The main material burned off was a carcinogenic compound known as vinyl chloride which was released from a total of five train cars in the form of gigantic pillars of across smoke which was very visible from areas all around eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.