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Cause of chemical spill still unknown

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POSTED: January 22, 2013 10:14 a.m.
Photo by Mike Riddle/

After the chemical was determined to be "black liquor," which is caustic by commonly used in papermaking, it was broken up and loaded onto a dump truck for disposal.

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A chemical spill Monday prompted closure of Highway 84 and the evacuation of several businesses in Ludowici.

According to Ludowici/Long County Fire Chief Richard Truman, his department was called about 11 a.m. to investigate an unknown substance on Highway 84 at its intersection with Highway 301. Truman said first responders found a black substance stretching approximately 200 feet along 84.

He said that the substance appeared to be a chemical that had crystalized. Truman said it was initially thought the substance was polystyrene, which is highly flammable.

Truman said the intersection was shut down and nearby businesses, including the Flash Foods, Parker’s and Subway, were evacuated. First responders then placed dirt and plastic on the substance.

Truman said tests conducted by a hazardous materials technician discovered the substance was a chemical called black liquor used in paper making. Black liquor is not very flammable. Its primary danger is from direct, extended contact.

The chief said first responders broke the crystalized chemical into pieces and loaded it, along with the dirt and plastic, into a dump truck. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was called to find a proper disposal site.

Truman said the source of the chemical is not known.

Highway 84 remained closed until about 1:30 when one lane was opened. By 3:30 all lanes were open.

Truman said that there were no injuries.

Agencies that worked the emergency included the Long County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Transportation, Ludowici Police Department and Ludowici Public Works Department.

 

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