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Specialists consult to determine plan for removal of leaking chemical, continued delays through morning

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 2:14pm

An early morning crash on I-10 put the brakes on traffic in Baton Rouge and no relief seems to be in sight.

“The closure will last at least through the evening and possibly until tomorrow,” Trooper Russell Graham, Louisiana State Police, said.

Two crashes happened back-to-back on I-10 at Essen at around 3:40 a.m. 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 of those was hauling just under 9,000 gallons of Isobutane and that chemical is currently leaking from the tanker truck. State Police and HazMat had no choice but to shut down the Interstate while crews work to contain the situation.

“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 Baton Rouge Police Department is currently investigating the cause of the accident. However, they are unable to conduct a full investigation until HazMat crews remove the leaking chemical.

One person was transported to a local hospital this morning with minor injuries. All others involved in the crash were treated and released at the scene.

That stretch of I-10 sees roughly 120,000 vehicles per day. According to State Police the Interstate is currently closed at beginning in the east bound lane at I-10/12 split and in the west bound lane at Siegen.

City-Parish Chief Traffic Engineer Ingolf Partenheimer suggests taking Florida Boulevard and Choctaw Drive, north-south roads include Nicholson Drive, Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Airline Highway, Perkins Road and Burbank Drive. DPW is working to keep traffic flowing on the alternative routes during the I-10 shutdown.

EBR Parish Schools notes that service delays are expected. The Transportation Department is adding about 20 extra buses this afternoon to deal with the issue. They say there could be issues tomorrow morning as well.

So far the State Police say that no evacuation is necessary. However, the Mayor’s Office advises that if evacuations become necessary because of the leaking vapor, there is a phone system in place to notify the impacted residents and businesses by phone.

“We are keeping the hospitals abreast of the latest information so they don’t prematurely start evacuating patients, which takes a lot of logistics,” Mayor Holden added.

NBC33 News has provided continuous updates on the NBC33 Facebook page as well as on Twitter. We will continue to update throughout the day and tomorrow morning if those delays continue.

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