Many commercial trucks and 18-wheelers carry waste and other hazardous materials. Toxic chemicals must be properly secured and transported so that they do not spill after an accident or rollover crash. Just before 3:00 a.m. on December 14, 2016, a commercial semi-truck that was carrying hazardous materials crashed into another truck on Interstate 24 in Rutherford County, Tennessee. This impact caused the truck to overturn followed by a toxic chemical spill onto the highway. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the truck was carrying chemical cleaners such as chlorine tablets, oxidizers, and other corrosives. After the crash, the truck and the released chemicals caught on fire.
This accident occurred near Buchanan Estates, a Rutherford County neighborhood with around 150 homes. Local law enforcement officers initially instructed all residents within a 1 mile radius of the wreck to stay indoors, as the flames from the fire were potentially toxic. Officials also expressed concerned about the wind pushing the fumes farther from the site and affecting more even people. As law enforcement began to clean up the spill by dumping water on the chemicals, all residents and business owners were told to evacuate the area until it was safe to return.
Exposure to chemicals or toxic waste can be extremely dangerous. Hazardous materials that commercial trucks transport can include radioactive materials, explosives, toxic waste, certain cleaning products, and methane. People can be exposed to these materials in many ways, including through the air or water supply. Exposure can cause significant and permanent injuries that may initially go undetected. Side effects may include cancer, respiratory disease, and developmental problems in children. If a pregnant woman is exposed to toxic or hazardous waste, the child may be born with birth defects.