Overturned truck spills toxic clouds of nitric acid, forcing evacuations

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A truck overturned after a fiery crash on an Arizona highway, forcing the roadway to close and locals to shelter-in-place as it spewed toxic yellow fumes into the atmosphere.

The truck was hauling nitric acid, an important component used to fertilizers, dyes, and explosives, just east of Tucson on Interstate-10 on Tuesday afternoon around 2.45pm.

The truck’s driver was confirmed dead at the scene of the crash. They have not yet been identified. The cause of the accident has not yet been determined, and authorities have not said if any other vehicles or motorists were involved in the crash.

Videos taken by motorists show the truck lying on its side, with toxic yellow fumes billowing out into the atmosphere.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nitric acid is highly corrosive and can cause ‘irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane, delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion.’

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) deployed HAZMAT teams to the area, as well as firefighters to contain a spreading brush fire and police officers to close an ‘extensive’ section of roadway.

This is the perimeter map for this incident.

For incident updates: https://t.co/tO7v5IFu7k pic.twitter.com/TDuEjOhLPX

Hours later around 6.45pm, ADPS began evacuating residents within a half-mile area around the crash site and issued a shelter-in-place order to people within the next mile.

That order was lifted just two hours later, but reinstated again at 4.55am the next morning. ADPS also ordered all residents in the one-mile radius to turn off air conditioners or radiators while sheltering.

‘While crews were attempting to remove the load from the commercial vehicle, gassing occurred,’ ADPS stated.

Interstate-10 remains closed in both directions.

The dangerous spill comes only 11 days after a train derailment caused a massive fire and chemical leakage in East Palestine, Ohio. The ensuing controlled release of the train’s chemical cargo a massive cloud of toxic fumes to form over the crash site.

A strangely similar incident occurred last June, when advancing Russian forces in Ukraine bombed a chemical plant in the city of Severodonetsk. The airstrike created a similar cloud of toxic yellow smoke in the southern Ukrainian city.

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