Residents Evacuate, Shelter In Place After Toxic Spill On Arizona Highway

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Authorities in Arizona issued evacuation and shelter-in-place orders after a deadly crash Tuesday afternoon led to a toxic spill near Tucson.

A commercial truck carrying liquid nitric acid rolled over on Interstate 10, killing the driver and spilling the hazardous material onto the highway, according to a press release issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS). Authorities issued an evacuation order for all residents within a half-mile of the crash site and a shelter-in-place order for those within a one-mile radius. The interstate was also closed in both directions, the release noted.

Nitric acid is a colorless liquid with yellow or red fumes and a harsh smell. Exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membrane, and can lead to delayed pulmonary edema, bronchitis, pneumonitis and dental erosion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The evacuation order was still in place for the area around the crash site by Tuesday evening, while authorities lifted the shelter-in-place order. The AZDPS also informed residents they could resume the use of heaters and air conditioners within a mile of the crash site. Authorities anticipated an end to the evacuation order Wednesday morning, but told drivers to expect an impact on their commute, according to the press release. (RELATED: ‘We Basically Nuked A Town’: Three More Chemicals Discovered At Train Derailment Site)

Gassing later occurred while crews were attempting to remove the cargo from the crashed truck, the AZDPS reported in an update at 4:55 a.m. Wednesday. As a result, officials reinstated the shelter-in-place order and maintained the evacuation order for those nearest to the wreck site.

Authorities have asked motorists and the general public to avoid the area completely, as Interstate 10 remains closed between Tucson’s Kolb and Rita roads at the time of writing.