Highway Shut Down After Sulfuric Acid Spill

Highway Shut Down After Sulfuric Acid Spill

(DailyDig.com) – The fire department in Atlanta, GA, reports that on December 7, almost two hundred gallons of the toxic chemical sulfuric acid had accidentally been released on an expressway in Atlanta. Underscoring the seriousness of the issue, two emergency responders had to be rushed to an Atlanta hospital after they were exposed to the hazardous chemical.

Usually an oily, colorless liquid, sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, and therefore dangerous, substance utilized in many different industry sectors, such as the manufacturing of inorganic acids and salts, fertilizers, explosives, pigments, pharmaceuticals, detergents, and dyes. It is also widely used in metallurgical operations and petroleum refining.

Sulfuric acid may not immediately dissolve concrete or asphalt, but it does hasten their degradation, endangering the long-term structural soundness of the road where the spill happened.

Contact with the acid may harm a person’s eyes, skin, and, if inhaled, the lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that irritation of the nasal passages along with the throat, burning of the skin, breathing difficulties, burning in the eyes, and even blindness may result from exposure to sulfuric acid. According to the EPA, an exposure that is severe to the toxin may be lethal.

The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) reports that when the spill of the hazardous acid was discovered about 6 p.m., all traffic in the northbound lanes of Interstate 285 expressway SW, north of Arthur Langford Parkway, was closed.

According to Atlanta Fire Rescue, the two Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) workers that were exposed to sulfuric acid while working on the accident were then transported by Grady EMS to a nearby hospital.

It is unknown precisely what caused the accident and who was delivering the chemical. It is also unclear how the two workers who were transferred to the hospital are doing.

The expressway will stay closed until the acid spill is completely cleaned up and evaluated, according to the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.

In light of such dangerous chemical leaks, the tragedy has forced a review of emergency response plans and safety precautions.

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