One gets used to this weather but today there was a chemical spill on Canada's busiest highway so it is no longer all games. In fact, schools and transit will likely be cancelled in many places on Wednesday but we have stopped counting the cancellations. This is the big one people are talking about in Canada although in the some US highways and airports were closed too.
A highway collision involving at least 30 vehicles near Kingston, Ont., caused a “highly toxic” chemical spill on Tuesday, forcing more than a dozen people to undergo a decontamination process.
One of the transport trucks involved in the collision on Highway 401 was carrying a hazardous material that could turn into hydrofluoric acid if exposed to heat, according to a the Gananoque Police Service. The pileup happened around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
The substance is said to be highly corrosive and dangerous if it comes in contact with skin, lungs, or eyes.
Joe Baptista, the mayor of Leeds Township, told CTV News Channel all of the people who came in contact with the dangerous liquid have been removed from the scene for emergency decontamination treatment.
He said there is currently no risk to the general public, and no residential properties were impacted.
“This could have been much worse,” he said. “Had there been a fire involved with the chemical, it would have been concerning.”
The transport truck carrying the dangerous chemical was said to have been loaded with as much as 14,000 litres of the liquid.
Baptista said the truck’s contents were held in a number of small containers, which prevented a larger spill. Previous reports suggested the majority of the chemicals on board leaked onto the highway.
Several people were taken to Kingston General Hospital. Spokesperson John Pereira tells CTV News the hospital was under a “code orange,” which indicates an “external disaster.”
“We are currently expecting 19 patients to be brought here from the scene of the accident,” he said. “We have set up a decontamination bay for patients arriving from the scene.”
Pereira said “non-critical” emergency patients are being re-routed to nearby Hotel Dieu Hospital.
Ontario Provincial Police Const. Sandra Barr said three police officers, five firefighters, and 17 civilians were taken to nearby hospitals for decontamination. She says one driver was injured, but she did not know the extent of the injuries.
Barr could not comment on the cause of the accident. However, she confirmed “whiteout conditions” persist along the highway, while the investigation is underway.
“There are a number of things going on. We have had to call other resources, other OPP officers from neighbouring detachments to assist,” she told CTV News Channel. “I’m told things are under control. It’s just a matter of completing the investigation.”
“Blizzard and whiteout conditions for sure were a factor,” said Baptista.
Highway 401 – the busiest highway artery in Canada – is closed in both directions east of Kingston.
Detours are in place. The highway was expected to reopen within six hours. However, the OPP now says that timeline is unknown.
Local tow truck companies have confirmed to CTV News that they have not been allowed to access the crash scene.
CTVVehicle pile-up, chemical spill closes stretch of Ontario highway