WESTON -- Nearly 10 miles of Interstate 79 were closed for more than three hours Thursday in Lewis County while crews cleaned up a wreck involving a tanker truck carrying a toxic chemical.
A truck owned by Quality Carriers in Kentucky overturned on the northbound lane near the South Weston exit at 6 a.m., said Mike Rigsby of the state Office of Emergency Services.
The truck was carrying molten phenol, a toxic, combustible chemical used in chemical processes, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. The chemical can severely burn the skin and eyes, depending on the contamination, according to The Associated Press.
The interstate between the Weston/Buckhannon (mile marker 99) and Roanoke (mile marker 91) exits was shut down around 2:30 p.m. when a truck from Quality Carriers arrived to transfer the chemicals. The interstate was closed to prevent the chemical's vapors from contaminating passing vehicles, Rigsby said.
John Egress, manager of the Kroger grocery store located off the Weston/Buckhannon exit, said there were some traffic delays. But he said traffic appeared to move relatively smoothly during the afternoon.
The Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Public Service Commission and Ryan Environmental of Clarksburg were on the scene.
When the accident occurred, Rigsby said, access to Interstate 79 was prohibited from U.S. 19 and U.S. 33.
According to Mike Zeto with the Department of Environmental Protection, less than a pound of the chemical spilled onto the roadway. The amount of molten phenol in the truck was unknown.
Crews were able to keep the chemical from leaking into a creek that feeds into the West Fork River.
Also, antifreeze leaked but was contained by 1 p.m., said Jim Cox with the state Office of Emergency Services.
The driver, who suffered minor injuries, was sent to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and was released after 6 p.m. An EMS worker was kept overnight at the same hospital as a precaution.
Regional writer Shannon Blosser covers regional news issues for The Exponent Telegram. He can be reached at (304) 626-1404