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Hazardous gas leak cleared in Kenly

A faulty valve on a tanker truck hauling a hazardous gas was repaired Wednesday afternoon. The valve caused a leak that led to the evacuation of several homes and businesses in Kenly.

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KENLY, N.C. — Authorities evacuated several homes and businesses Wednesday morning after a truck leaked a hazardous gas at a nearby truck stop.

A tractor-trailer parked at the TA Truck Stop, on Truckstop Road off Interstate 95, was leaking silicon tetrafluoride – a colorless gas that has a very pungent odor similar to that of hydrogen chloride.

The chemical can cause serious respiratory problems, authorities said. Chemical-industry information indicated the main danger of the gas is burns to the skin or the respiratory tract if it is inhaled.

A faulty valve on the truck was repaired by 2 p.m., and homeowners and business owners were allowed to return.

The truck was traveling to Texas with 12,500 pounds of the gas. Silicon tetrafluoride reportedly is used in the chemical industry and in microelectronics.

Authorities said the gas created a vapor cloud around the tractor-trailer. Johnston officials called a regional hazardous materials team from Raleigh to assess the situation.

Authorities asked residents on J Howell Road, U.S. Highway 301 and Bay Valley Road to leave their homes. Officials set up a shelter at North Johnston Middle School.

About six homes were evacuated. Rickie Liles and his daughter, Sarah, 8, went to the shelter.

“We came to get some information and ended up staying,” Rickie Liles said.

Exit 106 off I-95 was closed, and officials asked people to avoid the area during the morning.

Crews took the truck driver, who was overcome by fumes, to Johnston Memorial Hospital. He was treated and released.