Tanker rollover shuts down I-15 for hours

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MIDVALE— A semitruck hauling two tankers of ammonium nitrate gel crashed on I-15 near 6400 South on Wednesday morning, forcing the closure of the entire freeway in the area of the crash for several hours.

The semitruck crashed into the multiple other vehicles at about 9:15 a.m., causing the large truck to roll, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. The second tanker pup that was hauling the explosive chemical overturned but is not leaking, troopers said.

Traffic began moving in the southbound lanes at approximately 3 p.m. and northbound lanes opened just before 5 p.m., DPS confirmed.

Because ammonium nitrate is a combustible and can be explosive, UHP evacuated a 150-foot radius around the crash, which includes I-15 lanes in both directions for a while.

At 10:30 a.m., UHP announced that the chemical was an emulsion, meaning it needed to be mixed with something else in order to explode. It is currently unknown how many gallons of the chemical were in the tanker, UHP said.

Traffic in all lanes was diverted to I-215 and many vehicles were stuck between 7200 South and the location of the crash, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. There were no injuries in the crash.

Doug Shattuck was behind the crash and was in the first car that was forced to stop.

"The fireman came up and asked if I was going anywhere important today. I told him I was on my way to work. And he said, 'Hope everything is OK there. And just wanted to let you know you, unofficially, that you're in the kill zone — the blast zone. … The material that spilled is ammonium nitrate gel. And if it goes, we all go," he said.

KSL's Paul Nelson was on the scene and spoke with a lieutenant from UHP:

When the second trailer on the semitruck rolled, the hydraulics broke. The hydraulic fluid then leaked onto the ground and Unified Fire covered it with sand. Two large cranes were brought to the scene to upright the tanker. Unified Fire arrived at the scene and sprayed water to mitigate any possible sparks from tow trucks.

Motorists were also restricted on I-215, which was shut down at Redwood Road. The surface streets below the I-15 overpass where the crash occurred were also shut down as a precaution.

All personnel were pulled off the tanker cleanup due to lightning as of about 2:30 p.m., but were permitted to continue clearing the area shortly after, DPS confirmed.

The Murray School District released the following statement on their Facebook page regarding student busing:

None of the ammonium nitrate gel ever leaked out of the tanker, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason.

"As far as the tanker itself, it really did its job. It worked as designed," Gleason said.

Although the potent substance wasn't detected to have leaked, according to Gleason, the various precautionary measures were necessary to make sure something catastrophic didn't happen.

"That's really something that's very unique and only happens in the most extreme situations," he said of the closure.

Lisa Miller, traveler information manager, said the total personal and business loss exacted by the lengthy delays amounted to 4,725 lost hours worth about $90,000 on northbound I-15 alone.


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