Chemical Spill Drives 35 Families From Homes

January 13, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Thirty-five Joppa families were evacuated from their homes Thursday when a poisonous chemical leaked from a tractor-trailer traveling on Interstate 95 near the Mountain Road interchange.

The families were told to leave their homes around 8 p.m. as emergency crews cleaned up the spill of chloroacetaldehyde, used to strip bark from trees.

Residents returned home by 1 a.m., said Chuck Jackson, spokesman for the state police.

Some of the families stayed at the Joppa-Magnolia volunteer fire hall until they could return home, Jackson said.Others stayed with friends or relatives.

Some of the residents who had to leave their homes said the evacuation caused no problems.

"There was no big hassle," said Alma Bendis, who waited at her daughter's house in Abingdon until the cleanup was finished.

Only a small amount of the chemical leaked from the truck, Jackson said. The cause of the leak has not been determined.

"(The spill) did not present any environmental threat to anyone in the community," Jackson said.

The I-95 exit ramps, Old Mountain Road and a portion of Mountain Road were closed as emergency crews cleaned up the spill,Jackson said. The roads were reopened at 1 a.m.

The truck driver stopped along the exit ramp to Mountain Road when another trucker operating a citizens band radio notified the driver that a liquid was leaking fromhis trailer, Jackson said.

The driver, traveling from Baltimore to Wilmington, Del., found the leak and notified authorities at 7:40 p.m., Jackson said. Emergency crews responded,closed the roads and began the evacuation.

The truck was carrying 70 55-gallon metal drums.Only one of the drums was leaking.

The chemical causes irritationand burning to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin, a spokesman for the Maryland Poison Center said.

The truck driver, Louis Aurgemma, 34, of Wilmington, N.C., was taken to Fallston General Hospital for observation. He was later released.

Firefighters from Joppa-Magnolia, ambulance crews from Abingdon, and hazardous materials teams from Harford and Baltimore counties responded to the scene, county emergency dispatchers said.

Emergency crews were at the scene until 6:30 a.m. Friday to check other drums for leaks, but none was found, Jackson said. The undamaged drums were then put onto another truck fortransport.

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