ELLENSBURG – A truck loaded with potentially toxic materials caused a hazmat response from regional emergency officials on Tuesday afternoon in Ellensburg.
The incident occurred at the Conoco Flying J gas station on S Canyon Rd after it was discovered the truck was leaking biological waste from its cargo area.
The Washington State Patrol received word of the situation at around 4:30 p.m. and helped local law enforcement officials secure the scene. They also closed the ramps of Exit 109 off Interstate-90 for over two hours as a precaution.
The Ellensburg Police Department (EPD) issued a statement at 10:30 p.m. that emergency management officials had issued a Level 1 evacuation notice for the vicinity of 2300 S. Canyon Rd. The EPD didn’t give the all-clear for residents within the affected zone until approximately 5 a.m. on Wednesday.
The driver of the truck, Brandon Williams, told the Daily Record that he noticed his truck was leaking a clear, oily fluid which was puddling underneath one of its tires and that the airbag of the vehicle was soaking wet with an unknown liquid. Williams reportedly thought the substance was an automotive lubricant, but later realized it was emanating from the cargo hold of his truck’s attached trailer.
“I’ve been a hazmat guy for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Williams told the Daily Record.
Williams said the substance which leaked was coming from the sealed drums of biological waste he was carrying on board the truck. He explained the containers can house everything from blood, urine, and used bandages to body parts and hazardous chemicals used in hospitals.
According to Williams, aside from the biological contaminants, there were three other potentially-dangerous chemicals inside the drums, including sodium hydroxide, an organic peroxide, and another flammable substance.
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