HENDERSON — Late Monday afternoon, U.S. 35, one of the busiest, and most talked-about routes through the area was shut down in both directions for a time after a tractor trailer began leaking a chemical used in the fracking process.
The chemical, hexamine, is flammable but not in the state in which it was discovered after the spill, according to Carrie Bly, spokesperson with the West Virginia Department of Transportation. (Fracking is a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers). The hexamine was in a diluted solution when spilled and is only a threat if ingested or directly inhaled, Bly said.
The incident occurred near Three Mile Rd. on the four-lane of U.S. 35 just outside of Henderson in one of the northbound lanes, Bly said. According to Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers, traffic was rerouted on to W.Va. 817 (old U.S. 35) until the spill could be cleaned. Powers reiterated Bly’s sentiments that the chemical posed no risk to local residents.
Local firefighters, as well as first responders, were called to the scene as were personnel with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Around 8:45 p.m., the southbound lanes of U.S. 35 were reopened, then shortly after 9 p.m. one of the northbound lanes was reopened. This allowed traffic to keep flowing and work to continue on the spill. No word on when the remaining lane will be reopened though crews were expected to work the rest of the night on the spill.
Both Powers and Bly said the tractor trailer did not crash. Bly said personnel with the WVDOT heard it appeared the tank carrying the chemical ruptured on the inside though that had not been confirmed. It is not known how long the tank had been leaking and for how far.
Powers said there were no injuries. The driver and the name of the tractor trailer company were not available at press time though Bly said she was told it was a company out of Virginia. A company from West Virginia was en route to offload the truck.
This was a developing story at press time and updates can be found as they become available at www.mydailyregister.com, the Point Pleasant Register’s Facebook page and in Wednesday’s print edition .