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Acid spill in Washington, streets closed

By Staff
Truck driver issued a fine
By CHRISTINA HALE, Staff Writer
A truck carrying phosphoric acid leaked for about 12 blocks Wednesday morning in Washington, after the driver did not shut the hinged cover on the tanker, officials said.
Michael Williams was issued a $250 for the violation, said Trooper Stover Terry with the N.C. Highway Patrol’s district office in Greenville.
Terry said, “A Washington police officer saw the acid sloshing out and stopped the truck.”
Beaufort County Fire Chief Jimmy Davis said the acid spilled onto Plymouth and West Fifth streets, and in front of King Chicken on Carolina Avenue. The acid did not spill onto any grassy areas, he said.
Davis said Williams had made a transfer with another tanker earlier and “left the dome cover up.”
Acid spilled “all over” the truck, Terry said. “It was an obvious violation.”
Initially, officials were covering the spill with sand, but later found out doing so would make the cleanup effort longer, Davis said.
Phosphoric acid, which is used in fertilizer, can cause redness and burns to the skin and eyes, according to the European Fertilizer Manufacture Association Web site. Inhaling the “acid mists” may cause throat and lung irritation.
Emergency officials “took measures to make sure it didn’t get into the storm drains,” Davis said.
The state Department of Transportation and the Washington Police Department helped fire officials monitor the area until the evening hours.
The trucking company, Associated Petroleum Carriers, was contacted and retained a cleanup contractor. Davis estimated that resolving the spill would take several hours. “It’s a long area to clean,” he said.
Associated Petroleum Carriers would not comment on the spill as of press time Wednesday.