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Truck Spills Amonium Nitrate in Johnston...

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PRINCETON — Hazmat and firefighting crews have clearedout and all that's left of a potentially deadly situation in JohnstonCounty is a white, sandy pile on the ground. The substance in that pileis amonium nitrate, and it came from a truck carrying15,000 pounds,plus 8,000 pounds of detonating agent which spilled its load Wednesday morning.

The spill led to the evacuation of about 50 homes within three-quarters of amile of the spill.

Authorities were concerned because the truck was leaking fuel oil, and because it also was loaded with 1,000 pounds offuel oil and several packages of blasting caps when it tipped over. Thetruck was righted about noon. they weren't sure how dangerous thesituation was, but they did know it might possibly be deadly.

Resident Joy Jones says it was a frightening moment when firefighters approached her home and told her what had happened.

By itself, amonium nitrate, commonly used asfertilizer, is notdangerous. But when mixed with other substances, such as fuel, amoniumnitrate can becombustible. A combination of amonium nitrate and fuel oil was used in thebombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

Authorities said the volume of the truck's spilled contents wouldmake it five timesmore powerful than the mixture that exploded in front of the MurrahFederal Building two years ago.

The truck driver, Chad Christian Weaver, 27, of Greenville is chargedwith runninga stop sign and not having a validcommercial driver's license.

An explosives ordnance team from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and aregional response hazardous materials team were called in to help cleanup the spill and minimize the danger of an explosion.

Princeton Fire Chief Ken Starling said there was concern about the blasting caps, whichare pressure-sensitive. It was at the bottom of the spilled cargo.

Starling said once the truck was righted, their fears lessened somewhat.

Authorities said the truck's cargo was to have been used forblasting at a rock quarry.

Despite the charges filed against Weaver, Sgt. Jeff Winsteadof thestate Highway Patrol said thetruck had appropriate placards and that Weaver apparently was followingthe rules pertaining to hauling such a cargo.

Air traffic was being diverted around the accident as aprecautionary measure.

``They told me it is stable so that makes me think there isnotany danger right now,'' Renee Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the stateDepartment of Crime Control, said.

The spill happened about 7 a.m. near the Johnston-Wayne county lineon Rains Mill Road, about 3 miles from the U.S. 70 Bypass. The driverapparently missed a stop sign in dense fog.

Fog also is being considered a factor in a 25-car pile-upWednesday morning on N.C.24 in Cumberland County.

--From staff and wire reports

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