Chemical cylinders spilled on Route 75 Road closed nearly 5 hours for cleanup

November 12, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

A delivery truck overturned and dumped 36 cylinders of chemicals on the road and into a field yesterday near Union Bridge, sending the driver to the hospital and forcing an elderly woman to leave her home.

The truck driver, Marion E. Eckenrode, 37, of Westminster, was able to climb out of the vehicle after it overturned on Route 75 near the Carroll-Frederick county line about 9:45 a.m.

He was taken to Carroll County General Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Many of the cylinders, which contained nitrogen, liquid oxygen, acetylene, helium and argon, began leaking after they were thrown from the stake-body truck.

Marcelle Magruder, 78, who lives in the only house near the spill, was giving herself her daily insulin injection when she heard the screeching of tires and a crash, she told investigators.

Within minutes, she answered a knock on the door and was met by a man who had come upon the accident and was looking for a telephone to call 911 for help.

Emergency workers took Ms. Magruder to the Church of the Brethren, about a quarter-mile from the spill, because of possible danger from the chemicals.

Route 75 was closed as a hazardous materials truck from Fort Detrick in Frederick County responded, along with emergency and fire personnel from Union Bridge, New Windsor, Taneytown, Westminster, New Midway and Libertytown.

Two hazardous-materials spill response teams from the Department of the Environment and officers of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the state police were on the scene to inspect the truck after it was righted.

The area was cordoned off, and traffic was routed around the accident via Locust, Good Intent and Houck roads. Route 75 was reopened about 2:30 p.m., according to police.

Police said that Mr. Eckenrode, who works for Potomac Airgas of Frederick, has been delivering the chemicals in the Union Bridge area for several years.

He was driving toward Union Bridge when the truck ran off the road and hit two utility poles, breaking one of them, before overturning.

Rescue workers called for the state police MedEvac helicopter to take the driver to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. But after the copter landed at the Lehigh Portland Cement Co., rescue workers determined Mr. Eckenrode's injuries were not serious, and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Carroll County public information officer Micki Smith, who had planned a trip to Virginia with her family on Veterans Day but ended up briefing reporters at the accident site, said that almost 100 fire and rescue personnel were dispatched to Union Bridge for the spill.

She said representatives of Potomac Airgas agreed to pick up the cylinders and hire a tow truck to remove the truck after the leaking gases had been shut off by emergency workers.

Lt. Jeffrey Kreimer, operations officer for the Union Bridge Fire Department, said that the mixture of many leaking chemicals could have been dangerous under certain conditions, but that the winds yesterday quickly dissipated the gases. No one was injured.

Union Bridge Assistant Fire Chief Jim Harris coordinated the operation.

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