13 totes with 40,124 pounds of nitric acid spilled on I-10 in Tucson, Arizona, metro area on February 14, 2023. The tractor-trailer driver, Rick Immel, 54, from Nevada died in this accident. Both lanes of Interstate 10 were closed and traffic was diverted. A shelter-in-place order was issued.
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety report, a major traffic accident occurred on February 14, 2023. Near Interstate 10 in Tucson, a tractor-trailer crashed and spilled nitric acid, causing the evacuation of everyone in a half-mile radius.
Rick Immel was hauling nitric acid for Landstar System, Inc. to Theodore, Ala. Officials stated that he probably experienced some medical problem. His truck gradually drifted into the freeway’s median, causing his tractor-trailer to crash and rollover. All 13 totes of nitric acid crashed open and spilled.
The I-10 was immediately closed in both directions between Kolb and Rita roads in Tucson, and a shelter-in-place order was issued.
Nitric acid is “very toxic by inhalation and corrosive to metals or tissue.” “Prolonged exposure to low concentrations or short-term exposure to high concentrations may result in adverse health effects.” This acid is used in the production of artificial fertilizers and explosives.
The truck driver died in this crash. The investigation will show what led to the accident. Travel logs show that Immel drove as many hours as required by law. No additional working hours have been entered. Therefore, it is assumed that fatigue is not the cause of the crash. Also, impairment and speeding were not causing the crash.
There was a dog with Immael in the tractor-trailer, which survived the accident. It was returned to the driver’s family.
Bad weather made it challenging to remove hazardous material. The next morning, crews were able to remove the spilled acid and prevent further spillage of the toxic material.
Vial School District closed all schools following the shelter-in-place order. All activities and transportation for students have been canceled. According to their statement, schools will remain closed on Wednesday as long as the order is in effect. Schools are open on Thursday, Feb. 16. All school activities continued as normal.
The Pima County Health Department stated all motorists passing through the area to watch for possible symptoms of nitric acid exposure. It is imperative that any driver who experiences symptoms of acid exposure contact their physician. On Wednesday, February 15, at 5:30 pm officials lifted a shelter-in-place order. 13 totes of nitric acid spilled on I-10 in Tucson were collected and further gassing off is mitigated. Interstate 10 was reopened at 7 pm. in both directions. The Hazmat crew reported that the air was clean and nitric acid was not found in the air 100 yards from the site.