Chattanooga firefighters approached I-75 chemical spill with ext - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga firefighters approached I-75 chemical spill with extreme caution

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A tractor trailer crash on I-75 shut down all lanes of the southbound side near the East Brainerd Exit early Friday morning. Chattanooga Hazmat crews had to be called to the scene because of potentially hazardous materials on the truck, leaking.

It happened just after 5:00 a.m. and it took a little more than four hours before the highway could be reopened. The truck was hauling chemical floor stripper and that is why police called a Hazmat crew.

While it was a relatively small spill, emergency responders take the same precaution as a large one.

"I've been on this road for 49 minutes now," says Kathy Hendricks, as she navigates her way off I-75.

Friday morning's accident on 75 Southbound brought traffic to a crawl and had a lot of people running late to work, like Les Gray.

"I've been here an hour and a half, from 153 to this point, an hour and a half," he says.

He made sure to pass along to his boss all lanes of the highway were shut down because a truck hauling dangerous chemicals had tipped on its side.

"I let her know. And this is good proof too," he says, referencing his excuse being caught on camera.

"Shortly after their arriving, they noticed a liquid leaking out of the trailer. They noticed it had a hazardous materials placard on it," says Chief Daniel Hague with the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Chief Hague is over tactical services for Chattanooga fire. When the Hazmat team arrived, it saw the load was classified as dangerous. The driver told them he was carrying chemical floor stripper.

"Fortunately we only had 25 gallons or less leak out," says Hague.

"We are shipping things all the time and having accidents. Having things happen in transit is always an issue," says John Prater.

John Prater is president of Praters Hardwood Flooring. While his company is not tied to this accident, he knows all too well the precautions that have to be taken when dealing with materials like floor stripper.

"Each product, whatever it may be, is labeled to proper clean up techniques, so that the responders can handle the material in an appropriate way," says Prater.
     
Chief Hague says while it may have inconvenienced commuters, his top priority is the safety of motorists, his firefighters and the environment.

"Number one is always to ensure life safety to the public, to the motorists who drive on the interstate, but also our firefighters," says Hague.

Chattanooga police say the truck tipped over because a van side-swiped the trailer. No one was hurt in the accident. Since it involved hazardous materials, a third party environmental company was brought in to clean up and dispose of it.

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