U.S. 52 closed after chemical spill

Published 1:46 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

By Joseph DiCristofaro
The Ironton Tribune

A section of the westbound lanes of US-52 in Lawrence County was closed on July 6 due to a chemical spill.
The lanes of US-52 were closed at 12:46 p.m. after an unidentified barrel with an unknown substance was discovered on the side of the road by a volunteer firefighter.
“A volunteer firefighter stopped on the scene and our trooper was driving by and he waved him down,” said Sergeant Dunn of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “It was on the side of the road; we presume that it came off a vehicle that was driving down 52 but we can’t say that for certain.”
The unknown chemical at the time was a 55-gallon barrel filled with cobalt thiocyanate hydrate, a substance very similar to hydrochloric acid. The most widespread use of the chemical is for screening suspected samples of cocaine.
“Ashland Fire Department has a program where they can get a sample of a chemical and test it; they were on scene and were able to get that information,” Dunn said. “The barrel was unmarked, which was an issue.”
The fire department along with their HAZMAT team contained the area and cleared the scene. The westbound lanes reopened at 4:03 p.m.
“They have a containment barrel for this type of incident. The guys in the HAZMAT suits put the barrel with the chemical inside the containment barrel and take that to the EPA,” Dunn said. “There’s an ongoing investigation with the EPA and we’re reviewing video and ODOT cameras to identify if it came off a vehicle.”

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