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Highway 401 backed up as cleanup of chemicals continues

By Casey Horn [1]and Kayla Haggett [2]

BELLEVILLE – Traffic is moving very slowly along Highway 401 near Lansdowne, Ont., as cleanup of a dangerous chemical spill continues.

The highway reopened Wednesday night after being closed all day due to a huge pileup that killed one person and spilled the chemicals.

But reports on Twitter say westbound lanes are significantly backed up because of the cleanup.

Brockville OPP are advising drivers to be patient, as they have no idea how long the cleanup will take. 

The crash happened in Tuesday’s snowstorm. According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, one of the trucks involved spilled approximately 7,000 litres of fluorosilicic acid [6]onto the highway.

Environmental consultants used a vacuum truck to collect acid from the containers, and any acid that could not be removed was neutralized with a stabilizer. Cleanup continued Thursday, with teams removing soil and the neutralized acid.

The ministry reviewed the cleanup plans to make sure nearby wetlands were not affected, according to ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler.

No known private wells were affected, Wheeler said in an email to QNet News. 

Long-term monitoring is planned to ensure there are no negative environmental impacts as a result of the spill, he said.

The driver of one of the tractor-trailers involved in the crash, 45-year-old Ian Melville of Hamilton, Ont., died at Kingston General Hospital from injuries sustained in the crash. Twenty-seven other people were treated at the hospital as a precautionary measure because of the spilled chemical. That included seven firefighters and three police officers.

KGH declared a “Stage One Code Orange” alert because of the number of incoming patients.