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Update: 607 reopens after cleanup of 300-gallon corrosive spill

Firefighters and DEQ employees work to clean up a hazardous materials spill on Mississippi 607 in Hancock County, north of Interstate 10 on Thursday, after the initial incident closed part of I-10 for several hours Wednesday night.
Firefighters and DEQ employees work to clean up a hazardous materials spill on Mississippi 607 in Hancock County, north of Interstate 10 on Thursday, after the initial incident closed part of I-10 for several hours Wednesday night. MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY PATROL

All of 607 reopens after cleanup of 300-gallon corrosive spill

HANCOCK COUNTY -- All lanes of Mississippi 607 north of Interstate 10 reopened Thursday evening after a closure of more than 24 hours. The roads were closed after an 18-wheeler overturned, spilling a corrosive chemical that required extensive safety precautions, and a wind change led to a shutdown of I-10.

The westbound on-ramp at Exit 2 of I-10 remained closed late Thursday afternoon, but the ramp and the other 607 lanes reopened in a couple of hours, Mississippi Highway Patrol Cpl. Benjamin Seibert said.

The Wednesday afternoon accident spilled about 300 gallons of a corrosive chemical so dangerous first responders had to stand more than 1 1/2 miles away unless they were wearing protective suits, said Brian "Hooty" Adam, Hancock County emergency management director.

By midmorning Thursday, a hazardous materials cleanup crew had decontaminated the area, pumped out most of the remaining liquid in the damaged protective container, and righted the 18-wheeler. Next, they pumped the material that remained in the hauling container, decontaminated it and began soil tests.

"It's not the largest hazardous-material spill we've had, but the product is pretty corrosive," Adam said. "We've had a lot of help from numerous agencies and everyone is working well together, like they always do."

The spill had been an ordeal for many workers who had remained at the site overnight, he said.

Westbound lanes of I-10 at Exit 2 were closed about an hour Wednesday after the big rig overturned at 1:07 p.m.

The chemical, identified as dimethylaminopropylamine, is a clear, colorless liquid that, in its concentrated form, can damage eyes and skin. It is a cleansing agent used in products such as liquid soap, fabric softener and cosmetics.

"It takes a lot of cooperation from a bunch of different agencies to deal with something like this," Adam said. "The people helping us know what they're doing, have the hazmat suits and know the different protocols to use to protect themselves and others."

Emergency response grew more intense when winds shifted to the south and all lanes of I-10 were shut down from 607 to beyond the Louisiana state lane, Seibert said.

Louisiana State Police rerouted eastbound I-10 traffic and Mississippi state troopers diverted westbound motorists south on Mississippi 603. The section of I-10 was closed about 3- 1/2 hours.

The cleanup site was illuminated overnight with lights provided by the St. Tammany Parish Fire Department, which also brought decontamination equipment, Adam said.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality was there and called in a hazmat crew. The Mississippi Department of Transportation also brought in help.

The 18-wheeler's driver, Kristen Cooper, 28, of Baton Rouge, was not injured, Seibert said.

"The 18-wheeler had been northbound on 607 and she was turning left to go west on I-10 when the 18-wheeler overturned and spilled its load," he said.

The state highway leads to NASA's Stennis Space Center. Thousands of people work there, but Stennis has several gates employees can use.

Justin Mitchell, Sun Herald web producer, contributed to this report.

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