Semi carrying hydrochloric acid crashes near Swift Current by Braden Dupuis, October 4, 2013, Leader-Post
Three homes were evacuated near Stewart Valley in southwest Saskatchewan on Friday after a semi-truck carrying 39 tonnes of hydrochloric acid was involved in a highway accident and spilled some of its cargo. According to the Swift Current RCMP, the accident happened at 10:30 a.m. near the junction of Highway 4 and grid road 738, which is five kilometres north of Stewart Valley. The semi’s driver was treated at the scene and released. A one-mile perimeter was set up around the scene of the accident. Three nearby houses were evacuated, and a road was blocked off to traffic. By early Friday evening, the evacuated people had been given clearance to return to their homes.
The truck caught the shoulder of the grid road and was pulled into the ditch before it rolled, said Chief Denis Pilon of the Swift Current Fire Department.
“It broke the valve from the top, and then it was laying on its side, so the acid was leaking out of the tank into the ditch,” Pilon said. While it won’t be known for sure how much acid was spilled until the truck can be righted, Pilon estimated about half of the tank emptied into the ditch. “Basically it was soaking right into the ground,” Pilon said. “It leaked out into the farmer’s field a little bit but it was not a large area that was covered.”
HAZMAT crews were called to attend to the spill, and the Ministry of Environment was also on site to assess the potential impacts. “They’re still doing a damage assessment on the tank trailer and assessing the impacted area,” said Ralph Bock, manager of HAZMAT and impacted sites for the Ministry of Environment, at 6 p.m. Friday evening. “Assessing environmental damage comes about after we’re done the emergency response phase, so our primary role here is to protect our responders safety and then look after public safety.” An isolation zone of about 700 metres was set up around the site while HAZMAT crews worked to contain and confine the acid. Once the initial damage assessment is complete and the truck is removed from the site, a new action plan must be formed before taking the next step, Bock said. “So we’re in this probably for at least the next 24 hours,” he said.
Officials in the Cypress Health Region, in which the spill occurred, have been in touch with the provincial Emergency Management Organization and are on standby in case they are needed. Region spokesman Bryce Martin said the emergency department at the Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current was notified of the incident in case anyone — including first responders — requires medical attention. So far, however, Martin said the region was not aware of any ill health effects because of the crash. The RCMP is continuing to investigate the cause of the accident. Stewart Valley is located approximately 35 kilometres north of Swift Current. [Emphasis added]