By Patrick Yost Editor
A tractor trailer wreck on Interstate 20 Monday forced a more than nine–hour closure of both east and west bound lanes of the interstate and created a hazardous waste spill.
According to Corp. Robbie Roberson, Georgia State Patrol, a transfer truck hauling 8,800 gallons of “highly combustible” ethanol rolled three times while traveling east bound on Interstate 20 near the 120 mile marker.
Moments before the driver, 38-year old Chad Graham, Evans, Ga., was life-flighted, he told Roberson that a truck hauling a flat bed trailer had begun to drift into his lane and he had to make evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.
Roberson said the truck swerved into the median and when Graham attempted to steer back onto the interstate the weight and movement of the fuel shifted and caused the truck to roll three times. Roberson said two compartments of fuel ruptured and spilled into a storm drain near the accident site.
Emergency workers sealed the interstate east bound at the Madison 114 exit and west bound at the Buckhead 121 exit. The accident occurred at approximately 4 p.m. and both lanes were closed and traffic redirected until 1:40 a.m. Roberson said Graham suffered broken ribs and burns due to exposure to the fuel.
He was life–flighted to the Atlanta Medical Center. Roberson said specialized crews were called to the scene to collect fuel that remained in the tank and begin the arduous process of cleaning fuel that had spilled out of drainage ditches onto the ground.
Roberson said soon after the incident there was approximately one foot of ethanol flowing through the drainage ditches on the side of the interstate. Absorbent material was placed on the spilled material.