Commonwealth Journal

Local News

September 24, 2013

Pulaski-based Hazmat team responds to Downtown London chemical leak

Somerset — Pulaski’s hazardous response team rushed to the scene of a potentially dangerous situation in Laurel County after an unknown chemical was discovered in a trailer during a traffic stop.

According to Lt. Ryan Hughes, with Somerset-Pulaski County Special Response Team /Hazmat Area 12, the team received a call at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday of a substance that was emitting a strong chemical odor.

The chemical was contained in barrels and buckets, and it was discovered inside a hitch trailer by police during a traffic stop in London near the intersection on Tobacco Road and 4th Street.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Department issued a travel advisory for the area after the substance was discovered.

Although Hughes couldn’t comment on the nature of the traffic stop, other media outlets are reporting that police were given a tip about a possible stolen trailer in the area, which resulted the traffic stop.

Hughes said it took the Hazmat team approximately 45 minutes to arrive on the scene, and once there they discovered the chemical was methyl methacrylate.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methyl methacrylate is used in making resins and plastics in items such as advertising signs and displays, lighting fixtures, glazing and skylights, building panels and sidings, and plumbing and bathroom fixtures. The substance is also used for molding/extrusion powder, and coatings (latex paints, lacquer, and enamel resins), among other things, according to the EPA..

Exposure to the substance can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes in humans, according to the EPA. Respiratory effects have been reported after acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposures. Respiratory symptoms observed following acute exposures include chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Hughes said the solution is also highly flammable.

Hughes said the chemical was found to be leaking from the containers, and the chemical was quickly contained by the Hazmat team. They remained on the scene until around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The scene has now been turned over to law enforcement,” Hughes said at around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Media outlets reported that a suspect was arrested by Laurel County deputies.

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