Local News

Tanker Overturns on I-95 Closing Traffic in Both Directions

Posted November 10, 1999

— Both lanes of Interstate 95 near the Virginia border reopened to motorists late Thursday night -- almost 16 hours after an early morning accident, involving an overturned tanker truck, closed the highway in both directions.

According to the Northampton County Sheriff's Office, the southbound lane reopened to traffic around 9:40 p.m. while the northbound lane reopened after 11 p.m.

Late Tuesday, crews turned the tanker upright, and found another leak.

The problem started around 5:45 a.m., when the driver of the tanker truck says he swerved to avoid hitting a deer.

The driver lost control of his tanker and flipped, about a half-mile north of State Road 2010 near Roanoke Rapids.

In the process, his load -- 38,000 pounds of nitric acid -- spilled. The common corrosive is used in a lot of different explosives, authorities say.

A plume of vapor and some liquid escaped. Haz-Mat crews and the state emergency management's rapid response team evacuated 20 homes nearby, closed the Interstate and began the containment cleanup process.

It took cleanup crews all day to contain the spill, off-load the acid, right the truck and get it off the highway. The work was a major, time-consuming inconvenience to thousands of detoured drivers just trying to get to their destinations.

Traffic headed northbound on I-95 was rerouted off state Highway 46 at Garysburg north onto Highway 301 and then put back on 95 before the Virginia line. Southbound traffic was rerouted west in a similar pattern.

Some travelers had been delayed hours as a result of the spill.

The driver was not injured in the accident, but the state Highway Patrol has charged him with driving at an unsafe speed.


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