Overturned truck carrying 6,000-9,000 gallons of flammable propanol shuts down I-85 in Valley

Published 7:51 pm Sunday, June 18, 2023

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UPDATE – 11:45 p.m.  –  All lanes have been reopened

UPDATE – 9:54 p.m. – Southbound lanes of I-85 have been reopened. Richardson says crews are still working in the median and northbound lanes. Please use caution when traveling in this area.

A tractor-trailer carrying propanol on the northbound side of Interstate 85 overturned at approximately 4:52 a.m. Sunday. The accident occurred around mile-marker 73.

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According to East Alabama Fire District Captain Levi Richardson, the truck was carrying approximately 6,000 to 9,000 gallons of the high flashpoint chemical, meaning it can ignite at a very low temperature. As a result, Richardson said the decision was made to shut I-85 down in both directions between exits 70 and 77.

“Due to the extremely low flashpoint and this chemical being extremely flammable, we didn’t want to risk anybody traveling down the interstate and might throw a cigarette out or something,” Richardson told the Valley Times-News. “So, due to that and the safety of all the personnel here on the scene, we made the determination that the interstate needed to be shut down in all directions.”

The driver of the truck was treated on the scene for minor injuries.

Richardson said he estimates 30-40 personnel from several agencies are on-scene working to get the scene clear and reopened.

Propanol is commonly used as a solvent, particularly in the production of pharmaceuticals, printing inks, and coatings. Richardson assures the community there are no environmental concerns due to the leak.

“There are no environmental concerns, Richardson said. “It was all contained here. The interstate has a concrete drainage ditch in it, and most of the fluid was contained to that.”

As of 7:50 p.m. EST, all lanes are still shut down and crews are working to get the truck upright and evaluate the scene to ensure there are no other leaks and the area is safe.

Crews work to clear the overturned tractor-trailer on Interstate 85 Sunday. (Photo: Jessica Yeager / Chambers County EMA Director)

Richardson said it is difficult to determine how long before the interstate will be reopened at this point.