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Atlanta Truck Accident and Toxic Spill Shuts Down City Connector

April 19, 2017

An early morning crash has caused more traffic headaches for Atlanta residents and commuters. Reports indicate that a tractor-trailer truck carrying a highly toxic chemical overturned after a collision with an SUV. The crash happened around 2 a.m. Monday morning on the Downtown Connector. The operators of both vehicles involved in the accident were in violation of state law when the crash occurred. State officials closed the Downtown Connector in both directions as a result of the accident.

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and other public safety officials have released some details about the incident. According to reports, around 2 a.m. on Monday, April 17, an SUV and a tractor-trailer truck collided. The collision caused the tractor-trailer truck to overturn. The crash caused about 50 gallons of diesel fuel and 150 gallons of a toxic chemical spilled onto the roadway. Local fire officials dispatched their hazardous materials crew to the scene to assist. The chemical that spilled has been identified as benzoyl chloride, a compound that is used in dyes and resins. The chemical can burn eyes and skin and smells like nail polish remover.

Several hours had passed before hazmat responders clad in full gear could contain and clean the spill, and the truck that flipped over could be towed away from the scene.

Atlanta police say that both drivers were in violation of the law when the accident occurred. According to police, the driver carrying the hazardous chemical should not have been inside the "Perimeter." Hazardous material haulers are not permitted to drive within the Perimeter unless the driver is making a delivery to a business within the Perimeter. Hazardous material trucks can make pick-ups as well within the Perimeter. A truck carrying hazardous materials can travel to and from their business using the Downtown Connector. There are a few other limited exceptions. Otherwise, hazardous material haulers must use I-285 to get around Atlanta. The driver of the overturned tractor told police he was just cutting through by using the Downtown Connector, and was given a citation by police.

The man driving the SUV was also operating in violation of Georgia state law. According to reports, the man did not have a valid license at the time of the crash. Therefore, he should not have been on the road, to begin with. Atlanta police cited the unlicensed operator for the infraction.

This accident forced state officials to close a heavily traveled road as workers took to the roads on their Monday morning commute. Closing the road greatly impacted traffic in an area already reeling from the I-85 collapse from March 30. Fortunately, the road did reopen sooner than officials first believed it would.

State law mandates that hazardous materials haulers use the Perimeter roads unless an exception applies for this exact reason. Despite the prohibition, trucks use the Downtown Connector as a means to cut across Atlanta because the Perimeter routes are choked off by tremendous vehicular traffic.

The accident remains under investigation. The initial police reports suggest that the tractor struck the SUV when the tractor operator tried to avoid the SUV. According to the tractor-trailer driver, the SUV was stopped in the road and then restarted, cutting the tractor-trailer off. The SUV driver told police that he stopped to change lanes. Both drivers were taken to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.


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