UPDATE: ROUTE 103 NOW OPEN Route 103 South still closed as Hazmat cleanup continues

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Workers finish unloading the truck’s cargo as another Clean Harbors truck stands by to be loaded. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, more than 18 hours after the 911 call that unleashed a large emergency Hazmat response, Chester and Springfield firefighters, ambulance crews, local and DMV police and other responders were still on the scene with Rt. 103 South closed east of the Chester-Andover Family Center.

The Clean Harbors Environmental Services truck carrying containers of acids and liquid sodium nitrate was more than half unloaded this morning at 8 a.m. and there was still substantial work to do reloading the cargo into a new truck and cleaning up.

For the complete story filed last night click here.

“We’re mopping up the emergency response,” said Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson. “But there’s still going to be a Hazmat response and DMV still has to investigate and inspect the truck. Once that’s done, they can move it down to the old Rockingham (State Police) barracks.” Wilson was anxious to wrap up the fire department’s role and let his tired crew go.

Wilson said that the work should go more quickly since air samples taken inside the truck showed a drop in acidity. High acid levels in the air had necessitated using breathing apparatus to work in the trailer. With the acid levels down, workers could enter the trailer freely.

While it is still not known what caused the leak of the sodium nitrate, Wilson said that it appeared that a container of acid may have shifted on its pallet. He said that workers had not found a puncture and that more investigation was necessary. DMV Enforcement Cpl. Mark Heberts was inspecting the truck this morning.

Wilson said that Clean Harbors was estimating an hour and a half to finish unloading the truck and reloading their fresh truck, but he thought that might be optimistic.

A rust colored stain on Route 11 in Londonderry may be part of the spill. Photo by Tanner Bischofberger

It was also reported last night that a rust colored stain could be seen on the east bound lane of Route 11 from Thompsonburg Road toward Chester.  According to Champion Engine Company Chief Jeff Duda both his department and Londonderry’s Phoenix Engine Company responded to the Emergency Management call.

“We applied a neutralizing agent, let it set for a bit and then washed it off,” wrote Duda in an early morning email. “The length of the spill was about 1 mile long with the worst of it on the uphill lane from Cromack lane to the top of Huntley mountain.”
One problem that Wilson was dealing with in releasing his firefighters on Wednesday morning was the lack of police available for the Route 103 closure, since officers were being used for traffic control during road and sidewalk construction in Chester. VTrans workers who have also been on scene since yesterday afternoon continued to man roadblocks and direct traffic. “Everybody’s stretched,” said Wilson.
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  1. Sean Snyder says:

    What is the potential harm to vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists people that drove or rode through the spill? Route 11 was not shut down at the Huntley location for hours, if at all, as far as I know and there was more traffic on Route 11 because of the road closure on 103 in Ludlow. I’m assuming the acidity could damage vehicle coatings etc.

  2. As soon as we hear from Chester authorities.

  3. Thanks for the update on the Rt 103 spill. Will you let us know when it’s clear to drive through that part of road?