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Wreck shows turpentine stills moves through area
Highway 84 shut down for hours because of spill
The cement truck that reportedly ran into the back of a tanker truck carrying turpentine sits on its side on Highway 84. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine

Highway 84 between Dunlevie Road and Kent Road in Allenhurst was shut down for several hours in all directions Wednesday due to a traffic accident.

A fuel tanker carrying turpentine and a cement truck were involved in the wreck around 11:30 a.m.

According to Georgia State Patrol Trooper Markus White and the GSP accident report, the cement truck and tanker truck were traveling east on 84.

The tanker began slowing as it approached the railroad tracks that cross 84. The cement truck, driven by Frederick Madison, 36, of Hinesville, was following too closely, according to the report. It said Madison hit the brakes and swerved to the left, but his truck skidded 84 feet before hitting the left rear of the tanker truck. The cement truck ended on it left side and slid another 40 feet.

The impact breached the tanker’s hull, spilling 500 gallons of turpentine. The impact also pushed the tanker truck, driven by Don O’Neal, 62, of Midway another 170 feet down the road.

Neither man was injured.

The Liberty County Emergency Management Agency issued an alert, notifying anyone living within a mile radius of the railroad crossing to either shelter-in-place or evacuate.

LEMA Deputy Director Larry Logan said Moran Environmental Recovery Co., from Savannah, sent their hazardous materials crew to clean up the highway. Logan said some of the turpentine got into a storm drain. But he said it was contained in the drainage system and didn’t get into the waterways.

The Courier reached out to the Georgia Department of Transportation Friday requesting information on the number of trucks that carry turpentine in the area.

GDOT requested an open records request for a response.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Georgia was among the top producers or turpentine, along with North Carolina and Florida, according to New Georgia Encyclopedia. The state was the world’s leading producer of naval stores, which are materials extracted from Southern pine forests used in the construction and repair of sailing vessels. Naval stores included lumber, railroad ties, rosin and turpentine.

Diamond G Forest Products, LLC, in Patterson is the only remaining area producer of turpentine, pine gum, rosin and wood products.

The company has started a grass-roots effort to revive the once thriving pine gum industry in the Southeast.

Lewis Levine contributed to this story.

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