UPDATED: 7:00 pm 5-10-17: At 12 hours and counting from this morning’s hydrogen peroxide spill on I-22, clean-up operations are still underway near mile marker 59. One east bound lane of I-22 is now open, but both westbound lanes remain closed for continued clean-up operations. Fire fighting equipment from the City of New Albany Fire Department and from the various volunteer fire departments in Union County has been pressed into service in the clean-up effort. A temporary dam has been built at the spill site. The fire fighting equipment is being used to deliver thousands of gallons of water to the dam site in order to dilute the spilled hydrogen peroxide.
Officials hope to have one west bound lane opened soon.
A tanker truck eastbound toward New Albany on Interstate-22 overturned shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, May 10, resulting in a hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) spill of “several thousand gallons.”
The incident near I-22 mile marker 59 sent a vaporized cloud of hydrogen peroxide drifting roughly northward from the site.
Administrators at the Myrtle Attendance Center of the Union County School District were advised to close the school windows, but the advisory was quickly lifted.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said traffic was re-routed onto Highway 178 (Bankhead Street in New Albany) between the Myrtle and Glenfield exits of the interstate highway. Edwards said at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon that some of the chemical was still in the overturned tanker. He said it was hoped that the tanker could be returned to an upright position before the afternoon is over and that the remaining liquid could be offloaded into another vessel.
Hydrogen peroxide quickly decomposes into water and oxygen, and officials believed there was not a serious and immediate threat to human life during the incident. However, high concentrations of the compound can be hazardous to human life.
Hydrogen peroxide can produce flame under certain circumstances if high concentrations of it are exposed to flammable materials. There have been instances of explosions in which people were killed including one in Germany in 1934, which killed three people. Several people received minor injuries in 1998 as the result of a small spill of hydrogen peroxide on a U.S. domestic airline flight. Inhaling high concentrations of H2O2 can cause serious pulmonary irritation, and skin irritations can result from exposure to high concentrations of the compound.
In a dilute form hydrogen peroxide is commonly kept in homes as a mild antiseptic. Its primary use industrially is for bleaching paper or pulpwood.
All I-22 traffic was still being redirected around the hydrogen peroxide spill to Highway 178 by mid afternoon Wednesday, but Edwards said that law enforcement and emergency management officials hope to open at least one lane each of I-22, eastbound and westbound, by 5 or 6 p.m.