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Highway 64 Reopened After Accident, Ammonia Spill

Posted November 1, 2007 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2007 8:36 p.m. EDT

— U.S. Highway 64 east of Siler City was reopened Friday evening after an accident and chemical leak forced officials to close it for more than 24 hours.

Residents who had been evacuated from six homes got permission to return home by 7 p.m. Friday. Authorities had evacuated them as a safety precaution Thursday night.

All lanes of U.S. 64 – the major east-west corridor through Chatham County – were closed between Arthur Teague and Silk Hope roads after an accident involving a gas truck and tractor-trailer caused a leak of anhydrous ammonia Thursday afternoon.

County and regional hazardous-materials teams took until Friday evening to contain and clean up the leak and to unload ammonia remaining on the gas truck. The accident occurred in a mostly rural area of Chatham County.

A tractor-trailer driver was traveling west on U.S. 64 around 3:30 p.m. Thursday when his vehicle got a flat tire, state troopers said. He pulled off to the side the road near Silk Hope Road, but half of the tractor-trailer remained on the road.

A gas truck traveling in the same direction hit the tractor-trailer, putting a hole in the gas truck's gas cap. County officials confirmed that the gas truck then began to leak ammonia.

The driver of the gas truck suffered minor injuries, troopers said. The tractor-trailer driver had got out of his vehicle before the accident and was uninjured.

Troopers said they must inspect the vehicles and finish their investigation before they make a decision on filing any charges.