Officials: hazmat incident downtown would cause huge problems

By Jon Chrisos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Traffic started moving again along I-71 in Oldham County just before noon Wednesday. The interstate had to be shut down for several miles while emergency crews cleaned-up from a fiery truck crash involving hazardous materials. More than 40,000 pounds of zinc alloy metal made the fire even tougher to fight.

A tractor trailer caught fire around 2:30 Wednesday morning. Metro responders said a similar situation could create huge problems if it happened at Spaghetti Junction or another more populated area. It is already one of the worst bottlenecks in the country. That's why Louisville hazmat teams train every week for the worst.

"The worst case scenario for the city I would say is highway. Hospital curve and 65 is a very populated area," Captain Patrick Dalrymple said.

It's one of the scenarios the Louisville Fire Department's hazmat teams train to deal with using a make believe city.

Statistics from the US Department of Transportation report last year there were 179 highway hazmat incidents in Kentucky. During the past 10 years, there were more than 3,000. Of those 3,000, only two shut down major highways in the city. Both of those were in 2005 and neither was downtown.

MetroSafe says hazmat trucks coming through the city aren't required to notify them, but trucks carrying nuclear materials are. Companies owning trucks responsible for a hazmat mess have to pay for the clean-up. One of those crashes back in 2005 cost more than a quarter million dollars.

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