One dead, dozens treated following acid spill on Highway 401 in Ontario

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, March 15, 2017

One trucker is dead and 28 other people were sent to a hospital for decontamination following multiple crashes and a toxic chemical spill on Highway 401 in Ontario, according to police reports.

The trucker, who has not been identified, was transporting barrels of industrial acid when he was involved in a multi-vehicle crash at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday near the Mallorytown exit of the 401 in Ontario, according to Ontario Provincial Police spokeswoman Constable Sandra Barr.

Eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic on the 401 from mile marker 669 at Lansdowne to mile marker 675 at Mallorytown remained closed Wednesday due to the ongoing investigation, according to a notice posted by the OPP on Twitter. A reopening time is unknown.

Barr said a series of crashes in both the east- and west-bound lanes of traffic on the 401 resulted in a 30-vehicle pileup. The primary crash involved five tractor trailers, including the one carrying barrels of a substance identified as fluorsilicic acid, and one car just east of Highway 137. A secondary crash nearby involved seven tractor trailers and three vehicles.

Three other tractor-trailers collided nearby on eastbound 401 at around the same time.

Fluorsilicic acid can produce hydrofluoric acid when exposed to heat. Hydrofluoric acid is a highly toxic, highly corrosive and poisonous solution harmful to skin, lungs and eyes. Seven firefighters and three police officers were treated for precautionary exposure to the toxic substance. Those first responders, Barr says, were involved in the rescue of the truck driver. Another 17 civilians were treated for chemical exposure.

“(The first responders) came into a little closer proximity to this toxic substance,” Barr said in an interview with Land Line Now.

Barr said authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the crash, but that weather conditions at the time may have been a contributing factor.

“The weather was adverse at that particular time,” Barr said. “But was it the cause of the collision? That remains to be seen upon further investigation.”

News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this report.

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