18 wheeler spills flammable chemical on I-10

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It was a congested and messy scene on Interstate 10 Tuesday afternoon in Jackson County. An 18-wheeler carrying 2500 gallons of ether overturned in the median at mile marker 55. That's near Highway 57 and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge.

"Here is a perfect example of what happens with accidents," Mississippi Highway Patrolman Johnny Poulos said.

Poulos said a tire from another truck fell off and hit the heavy load.

"It is very unusual for this type of accident to happen, but here again, this is reality and it does happen."

Amazingly, no one was seriously injured. But there was still a big problem on the highway.  The trailer on the 18-wheeler cracked open, and drums carrying the flammable chemical tumbled out. Several were found to be leaking.

Earl Ethridge with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said the chemical can be dangerous.

"It is explosive, and it causes respiratory problems," Ethridge said about the ether. "They use to use it in hospitals to knock people out, so we are going to be extremely careful about moving this stuff."

Ethridge and other emergency teams rushed to the scene, and the inside lanes of traffic were shutdown to clean up the spill. He said the cleanup job will be a very lengthy process.

"We are going to hand unload each drum. All leaky drums, we have to take those and put them inside another drum. That is called overpacking. They then right the truck, and clean up whatever spilled on the ground."

Ethridge said he's thankful no neighborhoods were affected by the spill.

"The public is really not involved in this cause we are out here in the middle of no where. The only thing we are impacting is the motoring public.  Between Mississippi Highway Patrol and MDOT, they have the traffic well managed."

All lanes of I-10 were reopened by Wednesday morning.

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