Crash, chemical spill shut down Highway 95 - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Crash, chemical spill shut down Highway 95

Driver killed in Saturday accident

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Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 10:00 am

COCOLALLA — A tractor-trailer filled with ammonium nitrate crashed early Saturday afternoon, closing U.S. 95 for an extended period and leaking about 500 gallons of the liquid fertilizer into a nearby drainage ditch.

The driver, John M. Moody, 62, of Peck, was killed in the crash.

Idaho State Police said Moody was northbound on U.S. 95 near milepost 460 in the Cocolalla Flats area when he drifted off the roadway onto the right shoulder, causing his rig to overturn about 1:14 p.m. The crash closed the highway for about seven hours as crews worked to make the scene safe and secure.

Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said he was advised the dilution of ammonium nitrate in the tanker was a low percentage. The chemical is mainly used as a fertilizer but can also be used for explosives.

While homes near the accident were far enough away that residents did not have to be evacuated, Wheeler said those living in the area were advised to stay inside until the scene could be secured because the chemical can cause respiratory problems.

Traffic was initially stopped about a half mile from the accident but that safety perimeter was later extended to about a mile, according to Sagle area resident Esther Gilchrist.

People traveling in the area were being detoured in Athol through the Newport area to Highway 2 in order to get to Sandpoint.

Drivers who came across the accident shortly after it happened said the tractor-trailer was laying along the east side of the highway, the cab of the 2010 Peterbilt tractor-trailer flipped onto its top and the tanker filled with ammonium nitrate was on its side, crumpled and resting next to a drainage ditch.

“I’m guessing we all arrived within just minutes after it happened,” said Robert Yost of Coeur d’Alene.

Several drivers stopped and rushed to the tractor-trailer’s cab — Yost estimated about five or six — to try and render aid. The rig’s exhaust pipe was torn off the cab in an effort to get better access to the door, however, they weren’t able to get it open very far, he said.

Rescuers pried open the door to the tractor-trailer’s sleeper cabin but they were unable to get to the driver.

“We just couldn’t get to him, we couldn’t free him,” he said.

When emergency crews arrived, they told Yost and the others they needed to move away from the accident to a safer location because of the ammonium nitrate in the tanker was leaking as was diesel from the tractor-trailer.

“You could see the fumes coming off the truck,” said Yost.

Another tractor-trailer had to be sent to the scene so the chemical remaining in the tanker could be transferred into an undamaged container, Wheeler said.

Hazmat crews in protective suits were called in to clean up the diesel and ammonium nitrate which leaked into a drainage ditch on the east side of the highway.

“We’re very fortunate all collected in the drainage ditch along the roadway and not close to a fast-moving stream,” Wheeler said. “That’s always a concern in this situation.”

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  • emilyrose1111 posted at 9:03 am on Sun, Feb 16, 2014.

    emilyrose1111 Posts: 2

    The driver was unfortunately no more.R.I.P driver died. clearly he died as a result of the crash was massive. however currently i'm additionally distressed concerning the chemicals that's already swollen over there and that i heared from somewhere that chemical are often convert into massive explosion. Its in terribly great deal. use caution everyone World Health Organization is over there.


  • RUAMORON posted at 9:35 am on Thu, Feb 6, 2014.

    RUAMORON Posts: 2

    If you actually read the story, it states "the dilution of ammonium nitrate in the tanker was a low percentage", meaning that it was not going to be used in the manufacture of explosives, and, at a low dilution it has to be mixed with an accelerant to become explosive. By itself, in a low dilution, it wouldn't pose the risk of spontaneously exploding, or exploding now that is is not in its tank. But you sheeple walk right into it, and took the doom and gloom to heart. The "journalist" here got just the reaction that they wanted. Next there will be votes, more regulations, more government, and enviro-nazis getting into the mix. Just what we need.

  • emilyrose1111 posted at 11:52 pm on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    emilyrose1111 Posts: 2

    R.I.P driver died. Obviously he died because the crash was big. But now i am also worried about the chemicals that is already expanded over there and i heared from somewhere that chemical can be convert into big explosion. Its in very large amount. Be careful everybody who is over there.

  • danicagraceB posted at 2:44 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    danicagraceB Posts: 4

    That was horrible. Too hard to save the driver. I heard, the chemicals can be explosive.

  • localgirl posted at 8:55 am on Tue, Feb 4, 2014.

    localgirl Posts: 137

    Just a wild guess here, but I imagine the fact that ammonium nitrate is explosive is an important fact in the story as it helps the community understand why the highway was shut down for so long and why people weren't allowed to simply drive around the accident scene as so often happens otherwise.

    And yes, you can build bombs with the stuff under your sink, grow ricin in your backyard, and manufacture any number of drugs with the right combination of cold medicine and kerosene. But none of that was happening on the side of an icy road in North Idaho.

  • SagleDad posted at 12:21 am on Tue, Feb 4, 2014.

    SagleDad Posts: 35

    MORON, the report on the radio today was that the truck was headed to Canada and was believed to be a shipment for an EXPLOSIVES factory that makes EXPLOSIVES for the mining industry. Nice rant you had there, though. Feel better?

  • Corey Greve posted at 8:36 pm on Mon, Feb 3, 2014.

    Corey Greve Posts: 920

    MORON, the other possibility is that the writer was given that info by the spokesperson at the scene. What is interesting to me is that when I first saw the headline for this story and heard that the truck was carrying ammonium nitrate, I thought to myself "that can be used for fertilizer, explosives, and meth".

    I am glad that we have staff in our system that are well trained and know how to handle situations such as this. Thanks to all of the responders for taking care of the scene as well as humanly possible.

  • wishinshewas18 posted at 2:28 pm on Mon, Feb 3, 2014.

    wishinshewas18 Posts: 37

    didn't read

  • RUAMORON posted at 9:56 am on Mon, Feb 3, 2014.

    RUAMORON Posts: 2

    What a fine piece of reporting. Right up to the part where you, the author just had to throw the little bit about ammonium nitrate being used in explosives. What the truck was carrying was going to be used for fertilizer. It was not a high enough concentrate to be used in the manufacture of explosives, and not being delivered to one of our areas many explosives (cue sarcasm) manufacturing depots for that use.

    Did you know that that substance can also be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine? I would think with our areas problems with backyard meth labs, THIS would be the point you would land on.

    When you write other articles, that may have some kind of chemical compound involved, do you also state that those compounds can be used to manufacture explosives? I'll bet that you don't. I will also bet that you don't go looking at the 8-10 household products that you probably have in YOUR house right NOW that could be used to make an explosive. If a truck carrying flour wrecked along I-95, would you throw in that that too can be used as an explosive? No. Why in the Holy hell would you want to do that? Why would you intentionally throw in that little tidbit of information? To cause a panic, and to get people worried and wound up. Stupid, stupid, stupid.