Update: Major chemical spill leaves Hazmat crew cleaning up for hours

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The driver of the 18-wheeler in Tuesday's accident is Thomas Drummond. He was driving a Envoy Truck when he lost control and causing a major chemical spill on Highway 59. The Shelby County DPS have confirmed that Highway 59 is open and clear.

"Around 6:30 this morning, an 18-wheeler lost control and turned over several times," said Hazmat Chief Richard Lenius.

When the fire department arrived on scene, the driver had already climbed out of the truck, but the toxic chemical the truck was carrying had spilled all over the ground on Highway 59 between Timpson and Tenaha.

The chemical is an organic peroxide that Lenius said is shock sensitive. It reacts with soil, auto-ignites, and explodes. He said it's extremely toxic to the human body.

"We are going to be working throughout the evening trying to off load the product from the truck," Lenius said.

They have been working since early this morning, to off-load by hand every five gallon container from the truck, and there are over 400 of them. Charlie Setzaorn from the Baker Corporation was called to the scene for the material off-load.

"I guess it's some pretty explosive stuff inside there from what I'm told," Setzaorn said.

He was waiting on the scene for hours, watching the clean-up.

"They're all suited up with Hazmat material. There are chemicals from what I've been told there are chemicals in the truck some of them semi-explosive," said Setzaorn.

The sweltering heat didn't help anything.

"The protective suits they have to wear along with the supplied air. It's very hot and when you're inside that container, I can only imagine how hot it is inside. They're going to have to come back out again and take a break," Setzaorn said.

Lenius said, "The only situation we have here today is the heat and humidity where the wreck happened to take place is in a low-lying area. There is no wind. Heat has been a major factor."

There are still one or two homes that are really close to the affected area and until they are finished cleaning up the spill, they will continue to have the Texas Department of Transportation turn people away.

Lenius explained, "The initial response from the fire department evacuated in the immediate area. Fortunately we're in a rural area not that many residents that have to deal with."

However, they will stay out there, until it's safe enough for everyone to return home And use the highway.

They expect Highway 59 to remain closed until around 7 or 8 p.m. Tuesday, and most of the residents that were asked to evacuate have already been allowed to returned home.

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