Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Truck spills explosive materials near schools

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

        DANVILLE — A truck carrying explosive materials overturned Monday morning at U.S. 127 and Perryville Road, prompting an evacuation of three Boyle County schools.

        Officials said perhaps four tons of ammonium nitrate, an explosive powder used in demolition work, spilled onto the roadway.

        Danville Fire Chief Jim King said he and other officials were told the truck-trailer contained 15,000 pounds of the explosive white powder.

        “It appears about half of it is on the ground,” Mr. King said.

        Mr. King and Danville City Manager Steve Biven said the truck, owned by Austin Powder, an explosives manufacturer based in McArthur, Ohio, was traveling from Willisburg in Washington County to a highway construction site in Garrard County. The driver apparently tried to make a right turn onto Perryville Road when it overturned.

        A mound of ammonium nitrate could be seen by reporters from a spot about a half-mile away.

        The name of the driver had not been released. Mr. Biven said the driver was being treat ed at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. His injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, Mr. Biven said.

        Boyle County school officials evacuated about 2,000 students from the nearby elementary, middle and high schools. They were taken to the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College. Mr. Biven said the students would be returned to school once the wreckage was cleaned up sometime in the early afternoon.

        Mr. King and Mr. Biven said the cargo trailer had separate compartments for the powder, blasting caps and dynamite.

        The blasting caps, which by themselves are explosive, were removed fairly quickly.

        The dynamite, however, was still in the trailer because the trailer overturned onto the door to the dynamite compartment, Mr. Biven said.

        “We don't believe there's really a risk of explosion, but because we could not guarantee it, we are taking every precaution,” Mr. Biven said.

        The schools were an immediate and obvious concern because they were within 1,000 feet of the wreck site, which was considered to be too close, Mr. Biven said.


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- Truck spills explosive materials near schools