City of Athens reopening roads, letting residents go home after tanker truck overturns on loop
ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - City of Athens officials are reopening roads and allowing residents to go home after a tanker truck carrying propylene gas overturned on the eastbound ramp of Loop 7 Friday night.
The scene was cleared as of 4 p.m. Saturday. A spokesman for the Athens Fire Department said roads are being reopened, and residents are being allowed to go home. Because the tanker was carrying propylene gas, authorities asked for people in a half-mile radius to evacuate.
“The evacuation notice has been lifted,” an update on the City of Athens Facebook page stated. “Residents may return to their homes. The loop is now open for traffic. Highway 19 is still closed at this moment but should reopen within the hour.”
Several massive 18-wheeler wreckers were brought in to pull the overturned tanker truck upright. An earlier update on the City of Athens Facebook page said the next step after that was loading it onto a trailer and removing it from the scene.
Earlier Saturday, crews were working to offload the propylene gas from a tanker truck that rolled over as it was entering the eastbound ramp of Loop 7 in Athens Friday night. The incident caused the City of Athens to block roads and set up an evacuation zone.
According to a post on the City of Athens Facebook page, the rollover wreck occurred at about 9 p.m. Friday night. The tanker turned onto the eastbound loop of the loop from one of the southbound lanes of State Highway 19.
The truck driver was not injured in the crash.
According to the Facebook post, the tanker then began releasing propylene a fuel gas that is both flammable and toxic. An update to the post said that Athens police and fire personnel set up a command station and are evacuating people within a half-mile radius of the crash site.
Later Friday night, the Henderson County Senior Center located next to the Fairpark Complex was opened to accommodate evacuees.
The Facebook post stated that as of 12:25 a.m. Saturday, the propylene had stopped leaking.
“HazMat officials from the company are on the scene and plan to offload about 50 percent of the propylene into another truck,” the Facebook post stated. “At that time, workers will attempt to set the wrecked tanker upright and check for more leaks.”
However, attempts to offload the propylene were unsuccessful because the valves on the tanker are frozen. In the 7 a.m. update, City of Athens officials said they are currently working on a plan to set the tanker upright.
“The one-half mile evacuation remains in effect this morning and roads around the area are still closed,” the Facebook post stated.
An update at 10 a.m. stated that the effort to offload the propylene continues. A technical expert in the field is expected to arrive on-site by noon, the Facebook post stated.
“While the tanker is currently not leaking, this is an ongoing safety issue and road the evacuation and road closures remain in place.”
The westbound side of the Athens loop is blocked starting at the FM 1616 intersection. Motorists traveling west on Loop 7 should exercise caution and find alternate routes.
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