The collision of two trucks on Interstate 10 early Sunday morning resulted in a chemical spill that will have both east and westbound lanes of traffic closed until Wednesday. The crash reportedly occurred around 3:30 a.m. when a tanker truck collided with a passenger truck hauling a trailer. The tanker truck overturned and began spilling a hazardous chemical, isobutane, on the road.
The driver of the tanker truck was taken to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the two individuals in the other truck were reportedly not injured. The crash has resulted in the closure of I-10 from State Highway 73 to Farm to Market Road 365. According to Marc Shepherd of the Texas Department of Transportation, the road closure is expected to last until Wednesday while hazardous chemical spill workers attempt to clean up the accident scene.
At this time, there have been no reports of injuries, but 68 residents of a nearby subdivision were evacuated to a Red Cross shelter set up at a Hamshire Baptist Church.
Isobutane is a highly flammable chemical that is also highly toxic and corrosive. It is often used as a refrigerant in freezers and refrigerators as an alternative to Freon. However, over the last few years some have claimed that isobutane may be too dangerous to use for those purposes. Several instances of explosions in the United Kingdom have been connected to isobutane leaking from refrigerators.
Clean-up crews were said to be draining the tanker truck slowly and faring off some of the spilled chemical. At this time, there is no word on what caused the accident and no indication of the roadway experiencing any significant damage as a result of the spilled chemicals.
I-10 near Hamshire closed until Wednesday (The Beaumont Enterprise)