A truck that spilled nitric acid when it crashed forced Arizona authorities to evacuate people in the area and close off a busy freeway — the second chemical scare in the United States this month, after a train carrying hazardous cargo derailed in Ohio.
The agency later identified the hazardous material as nitric acid. The colorless liquid, which burns with yellow or red fumes, is often used in the manufacturing of fertilizers, dyes and explosives. It is highly corrosive.
“Exposure to nitric acid can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane; it can also cause delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A shelter-in-place order was briefly instituted for those within one mile of the incident, but it was lifted late Tuesday. A separate evacuation order will remain until 6 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said.
🚨ALERT: I-10 is closed in both directions between Rita Rd & Kolb Rd in Tucson due to a hazmat spill.— Governor Katie Hobbs (@GovernorHobbs) February 15, 2023
Updates are available here: https://t.co/L9mmhomScV https://t.co/5h3wxoPe4z
A hazardous materials response unit along with the Tucson fire and police departments were working to mitigate the incident, they said. “Continue to avoid the area, I10 will remain closed an extended period of time,” the Tucson Fire Department tweeted.
The cause of the accident was not given, although weather reports had cited strong winds and “dense blowing dust” along the highway and warned it could cause “rapidly reduced visibility.”
In East Palestine, Ohio, a freight train transporting hazardous chemicals derailed this month. Residents living nearby were told to evacuate or face arrest, with exposure to the released substances potentially causing skin burns, lung damage or death, officials warned.