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Hazardous spill false alarm

COAL GROVE — It was a tense couple of hours for area emergency services agencies and a slow trip to Kentucky Tuesday for motorists seeking access to the Ashland-Coal Grove bridges, thanks to a chemical spill that in the end was only road salt.

Just before 9 a.m., authorities were alerted to a chemical spill on the eastbound entrance ramp off U.S. 52 to the Ben Williamson Bridge.

“What happened was, the police department got a call of a spill and it appeared to be road salt but it had gotten wet and turned blue,” Coal Grove Fire Chief Gary Sherman explained.

Early reports said the blacktop under the spill appeared to be bubbling up.

Sherman said once emergency officials investigated, they determine the pavement was fine.

Because the vehicle that lost the roughly 1,000 pounds of road salt had left the area, authorities had to perform tests to make certain what they thought was road salt was not something dangerous.

Firefighters with the hazardous materials units of the Ironton and Ashland, Ky., fire departments donned white, Haz-mat level B (intermediate hazard level) suits to collect a sample of the spilled crystals and take them to a waiting Haz-mat vehicle to be tested.

Sherman said it was his understanding that there were other spills of road salt in Scioto County and in Kentucky.

The roadway was reopened to traffic at 11 a.m. after Ohio Department of Transportation workers cleaned up the mess.

In addition to Coal Grove, Ashland and Ironton fire departments, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Coal Grove Police Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol all responded to the call.