Stretch of Hwy. 401 reopens after deadly pileup, chemical spill
Joshua Freeman, CTV Toronto
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017 12:31PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:23PM EDT
A stretch of Highway 401 in eastern Ontario has now reopened more than 30 hours after being shut down for two pileups that left one man dead and also resulted in a hazardous chemical spill.
Ontario Provincial Police said Wednesday night at around 10 p.m. that the highway has now fully reopened between Mallorytown and Reynolds roads near Gananoque.
It had been completely shut down since around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when the pileups sent 29 people to hospital in Kingston.
Police said Wednesday that the primary collision occurred in the westbound lanes, just east of Highway 137 near Leeds, Ont. and involved five tractor trailers and one car.
One of those tractor trailers spilled thousands of litres of hazardous fluorosilicic acid onto the roadway, leading to concerns about exposure.
The driver of that vehicle, identified Wednesday as 45-year-old Ian Meville of Hamilton, was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries. Police have not said whether his death had anything to do with exposure to the chemical.
The secondary collision occurred about one kilometre west of the first and involved seven tractor trailers and three vehicles.
There were a number of “chain reaction” collisions behind the first two, OPP said.
Most of those who were transported to hospital Tuesday, including 13 first responders, were first sent to a decontamination area where they were hosed down. Some were discharged Tuesday and it’s not clear whether any of those transported remain in hospital.
In a statement Wednesday, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change said its staff are coordinating with other agencies and the trucking company “to assess the containment of the spilled materials and any environmental impacts as a result of the collision.”
“A 50 metre exclusion zone has been set up around the accident site. The exclusion zone will not be lifted until the local fire department is satisfied that safety risks have been remedied,” ministry spokesperson Ruth Gebremedhin said in the statement.
Gebremedhin said plans are being reviewed to ensure that nearby wetlands are protected. She said there are no known private drinking water wells impacted by the chemical spill.
Environmental consultants retained by the transport company are handling the cleanup. Gebremedhin said the consultants used a vacuum truck to collect acid from the leaking containers and a stabilizer was applied to the ground to neutralize acid that could not be directly pumped from the accident scene.