I-10 reopens; investigation of crash continues

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 11:00am

The cleanup effort on Interstate-10 is finally over. Officials have given the all-clear, which should be good news to morning commuters.

It took more than 24-hours to clear the Interstate after two crashes happened back-to-back on I-10 at Essen at around 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 22. As of 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, the Interstate was back in business.

According to the Baton Rouge Police Department the first crash involved a vehicle that struck another vehicle and then a retainer wall, causing it to overturn on its topside. The second crash occurred after the first, when a tanker stopped for that crash and was rear ended by an 18-wheeler. One was hauling just under 9,000 gallons of Isobutane. With the highly flammable chemical leaking from the tanker truck, State Police and HazMat had no choice but to shut down the Interstate while crews worked to contain the situation.

The stretch of I-10 that was closed sees roughly 120,000 vehicles per day. With all of those motorists forced to surface streets, the roadways became overly congested.

"We've been out here exactly two hours trying to get on the other side of Airline Highway," Donnie Pierson, a motorist stuck in traffic, said.

While frustrated drivers attempted to navigate around the gridlock, HazMat crews worked on a game-plan for getting the Interstate reopened.

“The valve you would normally use to offload the product was damaged beyond repair during the crash, so they have to use an alternative method to offload the product,” Trooper Graham, explained. “They have had to consult with specialists located across the country to try and figure out how to offload this chemical. All of the problems are compounded by the fact that it’s leaking, but you can’t off load it because the valve is off the tank.”

The final piece of the puzzle came when officials decided to burn off the remaining fuel. Some residents in the area were required to evacuate their home for a short period of time.

The crash that shut down the Capital City may be over, but many are left to wonder if, or when, this will happen again.

"We have to do better," Ursula Green, a motorist stuck in traffic this afternoon, said. "All our roads are raggedy. Everything is tore up, so we still don't have no way to go."

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