Trucks with hazardous material common on I-90 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Trucks with hazardous material common on I-90

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - I-90 between Liberty Lake and Post Falls shut down for more about 19 hours while crews worked tirelessly on a chemical leak.  

Members with the Idaho State Police say situations like this don't happen very often, but trucks carrying hazardous material drive through Idaho and Washington everyday. 

"Hundreds, hundreds within a 24 hour period, we don't pay attention because we're so used to seeing them," says Idaho State Police HAZMAT Specialist Brian Kitchen. 

These vehicles are easily identified through various placards. 

"The placard system is basically geared to alert emergency responders to help us know how to handle given situations, should we have a spill, or a collision involving a vehicle carrying hazardous material," says Kitchen. With simple pictures depicting things like fire, first responders have a general idea what the vehicle may be carrying, but not all vehicles that are transporting hazardous material have these placards. 

The chemicals are graded on a 'table' system. Table 1 chemicals get a placard no matter what, table 2 chemicals, like anhydrous trimethylamine, the chemical that caused the shutdown of I-90, does not need a placard unless the vehicle transporting it is carrying more than one thousand gallons. 

But Kitchen says all vehicles carrying these types of chemicals are safe, they have to be in order to load and unload the product, but also because they come under heavy scrutiny by police. 

"Typically we'll look at them, we'll stop and inspect, look at paperwork, and check loads. We'll make sure it all conforms with all specifications," says Kitchen. 

This scrutiny doesn't only come from police but Port of Entries and Weigh Stations. 

Adam Rush with the Idaho Department of Transportation says placard trucks carrying more than 10 thousand gallons of a hazardous material are required to stop, and from there they undergo various inspections. 

If a leak is spotted, much like when crews at the Port of Entry noticed the leaking trimethylamine, Rush says many Port of Entries have a 'pit'; an 18 inch deep ditch where leaking vehicles are parked and chemicals safely fall into a trap where it is contained.  
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