Truck inspection yields cause of yesterday’s Hazmat leak

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

A rust colored stain on Huntley Hill in Londonderry was a result of the spill. Photo by Tanner Bischofberger

One nail, sticking up as little as a quarter of an inch from the surface of a pallet punctured one plastic drum being carried on a Clean Harbors Environmental Services truck and closed Rt. 103 in Chester for nearly 20 hours starting on Tuesday afternoon, according to a Vermont DMV inspector.

Several fire departments, ambulance services, police and a state Hazmat team were on the scene through the night and the road reopened at noon on Wednesday.

Senior Inspector Mark Heberts told The Telegraph on Wednesday afternoon that four drums loaded on one pallet at the General Electric facility in Clarendon probably shifted and one was cut open by the nail. Heberts said it probably began leaking between Thompsonburg Road and Magic Mountain and the leak was concentrated on Huntley Hill because it was going up hill as slowly as 15 mph.

According to Heberts, the Springfield Fire Department provided a neutralizer to the Londonderry departments, which then used it in hosing down the road.

Heberts said that the barrels were located toward the front of the trailer and when the truck reached the top of the hill, the liquid stayed closer to the front,  reacting with the wooden deck.

“The liquid found a weak spot and began to leak on the front passenger side of the trailer,” said Heberts. “When the driver parked, he noticed the leaks and called 911. There’s no way the driver could have known about the nail.”

The truck was inspected and found to be in good shape, but because the liquid had been leaking onto the plastic air lines of the brake system, it was grounded and the company — Clean Harbors Environmental Services — had to have it towed back to its facility for inspection. The DMV will be issuing a citation to Clean Harbors for load securing.

The expense for fielding the local emergency response should be paid for by the carrier’s insurance as it has been in past incidents, although the insurance company for P&H – the company that owned the gas tanker that crashed on Route 11 in 2014 – underpaid the Town of Chester by $2,300.

The difference between the bill and the payment was considered too small to take legal action.

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