MCCREARY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s used to make paper…also called lye….on Thursday it was en route to a water treatment plant.
“I was sitting upstairs….and I heard a big boom,” said Crystal Davis, who lives near the crash scene in Whitley City.
That was the sound of the tanker truck overturning….and rupturing….spilling part of its load of sodium hyrodroxide.
“It can burn your lungs or your skin with contact,” said McCreary Co. Emergency Management Director Rudy Young.
Hazmat and the trucking company’s own clean-up crews were dispatched but the problem was complicated when officials say nearly a thousand gallons of the chemical spilled during the transfer of the substance for one tanker to another.
“When the tanker breached and caused a plume, it burned two of the responders, and they were transported to a Somerset hospital,” said Young. Their conditions were not made available Friday.
The McCreary County emergency management director says people were advised to stay in their homes. Needless to say, there was concern over the substance.
“It scared us, I was worried about all of us. Especially the kids, they wanted to come out and play and we wouldn’t let them,” said Davis.
Sodium Hydroxide is a corrosive acid that can also cause blindness. In the manufacturing field though, its benefits include making textiles, soaps, and drain cleaners. After the initial chemicals were cleaned up, crews focused on the soil next to the road.
“We are removing the contaminated dirt. It will be moved to a landfill suitable for the hazardous materials,” said Young.
Schools were also closed Friday, but officials say only because of the traffic and safety concerns associated with the highway being shut down.