911 call reveals more about a dangerous chemical leak in Spokane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

911 call reveals more about a dangerous chemical leak in Spokane Valley

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911 call reveals more information about potentially devastating chemical leak 911 call reveals more information about potentially devastating chemical leak
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

911 tapes reveal more about the chemical leak from Sunday, September 14, that shut down a 6-mile stretch of Interstate 90 for more than 18 hours.

The leak, from a tanker truck, released fumes that sickened two police officers and prompted officials to advise nearby residents to stay in doors. The truck was parked at the Washington State Patrol weigh station and Port of Entry just east of Liberty Lake. The Florida-based truck was carrying 7,000 gallons of anhydrous trimethylamine, a flammable substance used in making solvents, animal feed supplements and products consumer by the paper, oil, and gas industries.

The 911 caller, who was the first person to report the leak, was heading west, from Idaho into Spokane. He passed the truck near Coeur d'Alene, smelled something off, and immediately called 911. Here is an excerpt from that call:

911 Dispatch: what are you reporting?

Caller: "There's a tanker truck I passed a few miles back. It's carrying anhydrous trimethylamine. I think it's leaking. It had an extremely strong odor on the road. I don't think it should be that strong. You guys might want to be aware of that, that it's coming through."

Just after that call, officials stopped the truck at that weigh station near Liberty Lake. After determining there was a leak, they made the rare decision to shut down the freeway in both directions. Traffic was backed up for miles at detours in Liberty Lake and Post Falls.

Emergency personnel credit that called with potentially averting disaster. They say this was a minor event that had major potential to turn serious. Among the many concerns was that passing vehicles could ignite the vapors, causing the tanker to explode.

About two dozen firefighters were on the scene as well as the state patrol, Washington Department of Ecology and Washington State Parks. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office, Idaho State Police and Liberty Lake Police also assisted in Sunday's response, and the Spokane Emergency Coordination Center was activated to support the multi-agency response.

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