08/12/05 — Truck leak stops traffic on U.S. 70

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Truck leak stops traffic on U.S. 70

By Turner Walston
Published in News on August 12, 2005 1:49 PM

A tractor-trailer leaking liquid nitrogen caused traffic to come to a standstill today on the U.S. 70 bypass near its intersection with Wayne Memorial Drive .

The truck was en route to National Welders on U.S. 117 North when the driver noticed that it was venting more vapor than usual, said Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley. The driver, who was headed west, stopped on a ramp at Wayne Memorial Drive about 8:30 this morning. Fire and police units responded to the scene with officers blocking traffic in both directions while they coordinated an effort to escort the rig to the plant. Traffic was halted for about an hour.

Although it was not a liquid spill, Whaley said full precautions were taken to prevent possible accidents.

Contact with nitrogen vapors can cause difficulty in breathing.

"Our biggest concern was people driving though, and it being an irritant, possibly causing an accident," Whaley said. "The safest things is just to get it to the plant where we can offload it."

Jim Hollowell, district manager for National Welders, said the company has numerous uses for liquid nitrogen.

"It's used as a blanketing application, it's used in certain cutting applications, and freezing applications," he said.

He said the chemical is not dangerous unless it is in concentrated form.

"The atmosphere you're breathing right now is 80 percent nitrogen," he said. "This is 100 percent nitrogen."