COPY-Chemical spill causes evacuations in Cabarrus County

by David Whisenant - bio l email

MIDLAND, NC (WBTV) - A tanker truck flipped over in a rural area of Cabarrus County early Friday morning causing some road closures and evacuations.

The truck ran off the road, flipped onto its side, and leaked about 1,500 gallons of ethanol.  Crews did manage to contain the leak and prevent it from reaching a nearby creek.

The incident happened near Garmon Mill Road and Hopewell Church Road.

We have been told both of these roads may be closed until later tonight or early Saturday morning.

Officials evacuated residents living within a half-mile radius of the spill.

Earlier today, Sky 3 flew over the scene.  We observed a large apartment complex near the overturned truck, but it is unclear if any of those residents were evacuated.

The American Red Cross of Cabarrus County is providing assistance to those who were evacuated as well as the first responders who are assisting with the clean-up operation.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at the Midland Volunteer Fire Department on highway 601.  The shelter was open for displaced residents as well as for emergency workers dealing with the stifling heat and high humidity.

MEDIC sent its mass casualty bus to the incident Friday morning.  As firefighters are being rotated on and off the scene, they are being treated by paramedics.

A MEDIC spokesman told WBTV they are administering fluids and IVs as needed and are checking for any signs of heat exhaustion.  They intend to stay on the scene as long as needed.

(Cabarrus County released the following statement Friday afternoon.)

 June 12, 2009  - Cabarrus County emergency personnel are still working to contain a hazardous material spill on Garmon Mill Road near U.S. Highway 601 in Midland. Approximately 1,500 gallons of Ethanol spilled onto the roadway at 7:30 a.m. when a commercial transport vehicle overturned. The Ethanol leak is now contained. However, the state regional response team including the Hazmat team with Concord Fire Department continues work to clean up the spill.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the United States Environmental Protection Agency are on site to determine the environmental impact to the area. Ethanol is a flammable liquid that can cause skin and eye irritation and can be fatal if swallowed.

As a precaution, homes within a ½-mile radius of the spill have been evacuated. Residents are encouraged to go to the shelter and reception center at the Midland Volunteer Fire Department on U.S. Highway 601. The American Red Cross is  providing refreshments and incident support to displaced residents and incident personnel.

At this point, authorities are unable to determine how long residents will remain evacuated from their homes.