Two overturned tankers on the same day raise concerns

Two overturned tankers on the same day raise concerns

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Emergency response officials say it was somewhat unusual that two tanker trucks, both carrying around 8,000 gallons of ethanol, overturned on the same day.

Both incidents triggered a big response from firefighters and hazardous materials crews and clean-up crews.

The first happened at around 8:00 am on Bringle Ferry Road in Rowan County.  250 gallons of ethanol was spilled onto the right of way.

The road was closed from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

The second accident happened in Cabarrus County on Highway 49 near Lentz Harness Shop Road.

In that case, 26 homes were evacuated while crews cleaned up the spill.

More than two years ago another tanker overturned on Bringle Ferry Road, just about a mile from where the Tuesday accident occurred.

In that case the driver died, and the spill contaminated water for at least two homes.

Thinking back on that 2015 accident, Sheila Shepherd and Jackie Huffman say one thing that stands out is the urgency with which they were told to get out of their house in the minutes following the crash.

"The sheriff's deputy came up and said y'all get to get out now and we weren't able to take anything but the clothes on our backs," Shepherd said.

They did, and haven't been able to go home yet.

"The potential is always there so I won't say it's surprising, but a little unusual," said Salisbury Fire Department Division Chief David Morris.

"There's always the potential of having all different types of accidents," said Paul Dupree, Program Manager for Fire Protection and Emergency Response at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.  "On any given day, as you know, there are many many many tankers and tractor-trailers that are traveling our interstates and highways, in some cases even our back roads and side roads."

Most tanker trucks come from a facility in Davidson County and travel all over our area.

All are marked with special placards that tell emergency responders what is inside.  This placard shows flammable liquid like the ethanol crews dealt with on Tuesday.

Many say that based on the number of trucks on the road, they're surprised accidents don't happen more often. When they do happen, our area has hundreds of firefighters and hazardous materials experts who know how to handle the potentially deadly situations.

"Anytime you have anything like that that is extremely flammable, even a passing car creating a spark could ignite, something as simple as someone dropping something out of their pocket and creating a spark igniting vapors you know," Dupree added.

The state does have some road restrictions when it comes to transporting some hazardous materials, and cities can establish truck routes, but largely, drivers are free to use any route they choose.

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