Tanker spill on Bishop Ford snarls traffic

Outbound lanes open
July 23, 2009 4:47:58 AM PDT
A tanker started leaking a corrosive chemical Wednesday morning, shutting down a section of the Bishop Ford Freeway. Traffic was moving on Wednesday afternoon along the stretch of the expressway that was shut down.

The outbound lanes of the Bishop Ford Freeway were closed for about a mile and a half near Dolton. No traffic was being allowed south from 130th Street to Dolton Avenue.

The lanes reopened on Wednesday afternoon just in time for the afternoon commute.

Earlier in the day, though, anyone needing to go southbound on the Bishop Ford needed a lot of patience. There was quite a backup as crews worked quickly but safely to remove the disabled tanker.

The tanker was leaving the south suburbs for West Virginia but didn't get very far. It hit a bumb on the Bishop Ford and the impact cracked the tanker causing it to leak hazardous material. As dozens of gallons of a mildly corrosive chemical spilled on the road, the southbound lanes of the Bishop Ford were shut down around 7 a.m. on Wednesday. The Dolton Fire Department and other emergency crews quickly tried to stabilize the tanker which was holding 45,00 gallons of liquid.

"We're trying to move as fast as we can on it, but unfortunately, the thing, if it cracks open, it can spill out thousands and thousands of gallons," said Jerry McCullough, Dolton fire chief.

The spill did not leak into any nearby sewers and did not warrant evacuations. Crews used precautionsm as they started the process of draining the liquid from the disabled tanker to a new one. In the meantime, everyone else, including the tanker driver, had to wait.

"He's fine. He's walking around. I suggested he might want to go to a Sox game. He laughed about that," said McCullough.

It was no laughing matter for drivers who were going nowhere fast. Throughout the day they were diverted off the Bishop Ford at 130th only to creep along alternate routes.

"I have a meeting to go to and I am late and they said mandatory. So it's just ridiculous," said one frustrated commuter.

"It's horrible. Fifteen minutes try to go a few blocks," said another driver.

The tanker was towed to Calumet City where it will undergo repairs.


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