A tanker truck leaked an estimated 50 to 100 gallons of a chlorine solution yesterday on the Capital Beltway, prompting state police to shut down a heavily traveled, mile-long stretch of the highway during rush hour as hazardous materials crews secured the truck and cleaned up the spill.
The leak was reported to state police about 3:30 p.m. by a Beltway motorist who noticed the solution spewing onto the highway. By the time troopers reached the truck's driver, Curtis Richardson III, 26, of Landover, he had been made aware of the leak by another motorist and stopped on the shoulder of the outer loop near Connecticut Avenue, police said.
The Beltway was closed in both directions for more than three hours between Connecticut and Georgia avenues out of concern that chlorine fumes, spilled on a small stretch of roadway and shoulder, could provoke eye, skin and respiratory irritation among commuters.
Most of the solution evaporated and county hazardous materials hosed down what remained. Cars stuck near the truck were evacuated as a precaution.
The two-axle truck, owned by Falls Church, Va.-based Schirmers LLC, was transporting a 12-percent chlorine solution that police said is used for cleaning purposes. State environmental officials are investigating the cause of the leak, which snarled Beltway traffic and worsened traffic on other routes.