This is what happens when tanker trucks carrying fluoride (fluorosilicic acid) have accidents. Haz-mat teams are called in, people who are exposed end
up in hospitals, thousands more are evacuated, freeways are shut down for days, cars have to be professionally decontaminated and topsoil along the
freeway is removed so fluoride doesn't contaminate the ground water!
Spill snarls traffic, lives
The acid closed the road into the night, forced 2,300 from homes and sent 50 to hospitals.
By Cory Lancaster
OF THE ORLANDO SENTINEL STAFF
Sept. 7, 1994
DELTONA - Jeff Carine was driving to Daytona Beach to play golf Tuesday morning when his Toyota Camry hit a mushy, snowlike liquid covering Interstate
Carine, a golfer from Windermere, assumed it was a minor chemical spill and kept driving.
Six hours later, he returned to the spot after hearing news throughout the day about one of the worst chemical spills in Volusia County's history.
A tanker truck cracked open on I-4 near Deltona shortly before 10 a.m. and released 4,500 gallons of fluorosilicic acid in one big whoosh.
Early today, the highway remained closed in both directions, though officials were hopeful it would open by the morning rush hour. About 2,300 people
remained in shelters, evacuated from their homes.
The spill sent more than 50 people to hospitals with complaints of skin and respiratory irritations, including some hours after the spill. Most,
including the driver of the truck, were treated and released. Two police officers were admitted overnight to Central Florida Regional Hospital in
Sanford after complaining of headaches and burning in their throats.
Authorities were frustrated In attempts to neutralize the acid with lime and potash, which delayed I-4's reopening. Fumes also were detected late
Tuesday in the neighborhood of Deltona Woods, causing emergency workers to conduct a midnight door-to-door evacuation.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the spill. A spokesman from Pencco Inc., the Bellville, Texas-based chemical company that owns the tanker,
would not comment on the accident late Tuesday.
The tanker truck started out from Fort Meade, south of Lakeland, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, FHP Patrol Lt. Art Brown said.
...Police, firefighters and hazardous waste experts dumped bags of lime over the contaminated area to neutralize the acid and vacuumed the residue
with special machines.
Fluorosilicic acid is a highly corrosive acid used in the process of adding fluoride to drinking water, hazardous waste experts said.
If inhaled, it can cause respiratory difficulty, burning eyes and numbness around the Ups. Upon contact with skin, it creates a burning and tingling
sensation. Symptoms can take up to 24 hours to appear, medical experts said.
The chemical evaporates quickly and is carried by the wind. Fearing a health hazard, police began evacuating homes within a mile area, including about
1,750 people in Orange City and 500 people In Deltona. Students and teachers at Deltona High School went home early.
..."There are probably many motorists who drove right through and didn't realize it and some of them might not be being feeling well," Deltona FIre
Capt. Chris Nabicht said.
Carine, the golfer who drove through the chemical, estimates that as many as 150 cars got through before the highway closed. The chemical left a white
film underneath his car that must be professionally decontaminated.
"It looked like dirty, mushy snow, 2 to 3 inches thick" he said. "The color ... the feel of the road - it was identical to wet snow."
(next day's Orlando Sentinel)
...Michael Taylor, the on-scene coordinator for the EPA, said the agency wants the cleanup to continue nonstop until the contaminated soil has been
Experts do not know whether the ground water has been contaminated. "At any site you go to, it's always a danger," Taylor said, "especially with
bad weather." It rained most of Thursday.
The Public Health Department has advised owners of private wells in the area to have their water tested for traces of the chemical before drinking
Robert Pierce, vice president of Florida Spill Response, said he has a geologist testing the area to determine whether acid has seeped into the water
table or the aquifer.
Elaine Bennett Purvette Bryant, Lynne Bumpus-Hooper and Derek Catwn of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.Please visit the link provided for the complete story.