Local News

Tractor-trailer overturns, spills chemicals in Duplin County

Posted February 5, 2010 9:27 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2010 7:36 p.m. EST

— Hazardous materials crews were called to clean up at a site where a tractor-trailer overturned and spilled chemicals on N.C. Highway 403 in Duplin County Friday morning, according to the state Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the driver, Mike Noriago, 52, of Vanceboro, lost control of his vehicle and over-corrected, sending the tractor-trailer off the road near North Duplin High School in Mount Olive around 7:45 a.m.

The New Bern-based Amero Chem truck was carrying two 330-gallon barrels of hypochlorite solution and sodium hydroxide for delivery to three water-treatment plants. At least one barrel cracked and leaked, but authorities weren't sure how much of the chemicals leaked.

Haz-mat crews from Wilmington responded to the spill. Clean-up took most of the afternoon.

Noriago was knocked unconscious for a while and suffered a gash on his head, troopers said. He was treated at a local hospital.

Troopers said they did not know what caused him to lose control of the vehicle and it's still unclear if he will face charges. It was rainy, and the road was slick when the wreck occurred, they said.

Authorities set up an 800-yard perimeter around the wreck scene, forcing six people to leave their homes. The high school did not have to be evacuated. Troopers described those as standard precautions.

Troopers said the chemicals aren't harmful, except in large amounts, and are commonly used in swimming pools. Hypochlorite solution is commonly known as bleach and is commonly mixed with sodium hydroxide, or lye. In concentrated forms, both chemicals can cause chemical burns and eye damage.