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Local News

I-80 lanes closed near New Lenox after semitrailer spills phosphoric acid

Tractor-trailer rolls, spills about 100 gallons of corrosive liquid, police say

A semitrailer rolled over on Interstate 80 near New Lenox on Thursday morning and spilled triethyl phosphate, shutting down the westbound lanes.
A semitrailer rolled over on Interstate 80 near New Lenox on Thursday morning and spilled triethyl phosphate, shutting down the westbound lanes.

The westbound lanes on Interstate 80 between Route 30 and Interstate 355 were shut down Thursday after a semitrailer rolled in a construction zone and leaked about 100 gallons of a colorless, corrosive liquid – triethyl phosphate – according to state police.

The crash occurred about 8 a.m. Thursday at mile marker 138 near New Lenox in the westbound lanes of I-80, according to a news release from Illinois State Police.

The driver, Percy A. Wells, 33, of Chicago attempted a lane change from the left lane to the right lane while he was heading west, police said.

It was during the lane change that Wells noticed that the trailer “began to sway uncontrollably,” according to the release.

Wells reportedly lost control of the vehicle, which struck the guardrail, according to the release. The vehicle damaged about 200 feet of the guardrail before it overturned in a ditch.

Wells wasn’t injured in the crash, according to the release.

The box trailer carried triethyl phosphate in liquid form. An estimated 100 gallons of the substance leaked from the vehicle, prompting a traffic diversion to “ensure the safety of everyone in the area,” according to the release.

Triethyl phosphate, a derivative of phosphoric acid, appears as a colorless, corrosive liquid that is combustible and can severely irritate skin, eyes and mucous membranes, according to PubChem, a chemistry database run by the National Institutes of Health.

State police said the spill was contained Thursday and there was no immediate threat to the public. Firefighters and hazardous material cleanup crews were at the scene of the crash.

Wells was cited for improper lane usage and additional charges may be filed pending further investigation, according to the release.

The ISP kept the westbound lanes of I-80 between I-355 and Route 30 closed as of late Thursday afternoon, according to the release.

The investigation of the crash is ongoing.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority provided assistance with diverting traffic to alternate routes.

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