Police activate 'mass casualty response' for hazmat crash on Highway 401 in Ontario

By Land Line staff | Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A multiple vehicle crash on Highway 401 near Mallorytown, Ontario, has shut down all travel lanes. A hazardous material spill prompted law enforcement to issue a mass casualty event response due to the number of people exposed.

A chain reaction crash involving at least a dozen tractor-trailers and several ancillary collisions occurred near the township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands on Tuesday. At least one of the commercial vehicles involved in the primary crash was transporting a hazardous material that turns into hydrofluoric acid when exposed to heat, according to a Facebook post by the Gananoque Police Service. Hydrofluoric acid is a highly toxic, highly corrosive and poisonous solution harmful to skin, lungs and eyes.

The Gananoque Police Service is not the agency responding to the crash, but is sharing updates about the crash via its social media accounts.

The transport is believed to have been carrying between 7,000 and 10,000 liters (between 1,800 and 2,600 gallons) of the chemical at the time of the crash, according to a report from KingstonRegion.com. The report states that several people, including firefighters and others in the area, were covered in the hazardous liquid. A decontamination station was set up in the eastbound lanes of the 401 for those who were exposed, per the report.

The police service post notes that emergency responders are requesting anyone in the area to remain in their vehicles and await further instructions and evacuation by first responders.

The township of Leeds issued a news release at 3 p.m. Tuesday stating that emergency responders were on-site and coordinating the medical response.

“We reiterate the need for people to remain in their cars until otherwise advised,” the release stated, and encouraged residents and travelers to stay home or use alternate travel routes.

All lanes of the 401 between Lansdowne and Mallorytown are closed and likely to remain so for several hours, per the police report. Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area if possible, and to stay home.

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