Highway 401 remains closed after pile-ups, toxic spill

Mar 17, 2017, 01:21
Highway 401 remains closed after pile-ups, toxic spill

A second crash, about a kilometre west of the first, involved seven tractor-trailers and three other vehicles.

Kingston General Hospital spokeswoman Meagan Quinn said that a total of 29 people were treated at the hospital after the collisions, including the one fatality. One person was treated at Brockville General Hospital for injuries. The emergency workers underwent decontamination and were held for observation as a precaution.

Police say one of the transport trucks is leaking an unidentified "toxic substance", prompting them to evacuate the area as a precaution. Ministry of the Environment were among those on site of the spill.

Exposure to the chemical can cause irritation to the nose, throat, respiratory system, redness or swelling of the skin and severe eye irritation.

Police advised motorists stopped because of the collision to remain in their vehicles until they could be safely escorted away from the scene by first responders.

"There were multiple chain reactions after the fact behind those two collisions", Barr said in a news release.

While cleanup efforts are underway, officials said there is no estimate yet for when the highway will reopen.

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The first responders who came to the driver's aid were sent to hospital for decontamination, she added.

The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes, but the highway was closed in both directions around the collision site. According to the Ontario Hospital Association, code orange is used in the event of an external disaster resulting in a surge of casualties seeking care at a hospital urgent or emergency department.

He said there are about 2,200 products classified as "dangerous" under federal transportation regulations, ranging from household goods such as soap or paint to more risky chemicals such as those spilled on Tuesday around 2 p.m. on Hwy. 401.

There was no immediate word on the number of people injured in that crash at about 3:30 p.m. on Highway 10 in the Magog area. All vehicles have been re-routed and all persons with potential chemical exposure have been transported for medical attention.

The Gananoque Police Service said in a social media post that firefighters advised that the material which spilled could turn into hydrofluoric acid if exposed to heat.

The truck he drove was carrying fluorosilicic acid, police said.