02/05/10 — Chemical spill prompts local evacuations

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Chemical spill prompts local evacuations

By Staff Reports
Published in News on February 5, 2010 1:46 PM

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A New Bern chemical truck hauling water treatment chemicals traveling west toward Faison overturned early this morning about a half mile east of North Duplin Elementary and North Duplin Jr./Sr High on U.S. 403. One of the chemical containers was breached and spilled, and the Calypso Fire Department, along with the Duplin County Sheriff's Office and county emergency services officials, quarantined the area and were awaiting the state Haz-Mat team from Wilmington, which was expected to arrive about 10 a.m.

FAISON -- An overturned tractor-trailer spilled toxic chemicals about a mile from North Duplin Junior-Senior High School this morning, forcing the evacuation of a number of homes but not the school.

Brian Pearce, director of emergency services for Duplin County, said officials were taking every precaution following the accident, which occurred about 9 a.m.

The tanker was carrying a hypochlorite solvent and sodium hydroxide, Pearce said. He did not describe their possible effects on humans but noted that "they're something you wouldn't want to breathe in."

Homes within three-quarters of a mile were evacuated. Regulations call for homes within a half-mile be evacuated, Pearce noted.

He said school officials had been warned to keep students inside but that with the bad weather, he did not believe that would pose a problem.

"We feel very comfortable with that," he said.

Pearce said the regional hazardous materials response team from Fayetteville had been called and that local emergency officials were awaiting their arrival.

Details of the accident were not available as of press time, but Pearce said the tractor-trailer was overturned in the middle of the highway about a mile east of the school on N.C. 403.

The tractor-trailor was traveling west and carried the logo of a New Bern company on its doors.

The accident did not involve any other vehicle.

The driver of the truck was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital and was unconscious at the time, witnesses said.