Overturned rig on I-75 snarls traffic, spills fuel

10/6/2013
BLADE STAFF

Northbound I-75 was blocked in downtown Toledo for more than 10 hours Saturday by an overturned tractor-trailer that spilled fuel into Swan Creek.

According to Toledo police, truck driver Carlos Muinde of Riverview, Fla., lost control of the rig as it approached the Downtown/‚ÄčErie Street exit and it flipped on its side, blocking all lanes about 11:20 a.m.

During the cleanup, traffic was detoured off the freeway at the Miami Street interchange and backed up several miles into Wood County as well as jamming nearby local streets.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Toledo Division of Environmental Services, and Coast Guard all were alerted to the fuel from the rig’s ruptured tanks, some of which flowed into storm drains on the I-75 viaduct over Erie, the Anthony Wayne Trail, and Swan Creek. Crews placed booms downstream in the creek near South St. Clair Street. More than 60 gallons leaked from the rig, said Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld of the Toledo fire department, which had hazardous material and other crews on scene for the duration.

But for motorists, the big problem turned out to be the truck’s load of bagged, powdered mica, a mineral used to make paint. When the trailer overturned, the bags slammed onto one side of it, causing some to rupture.

While the rig was righted by about 5 p.m., an environmental contractor had to be summoned to stabilize the load because safety officials deemed the fine powder a breathing hazard for towing-company workers who said they otherwise would have done the job. As of 8:30 p.m., that contractor had yet to arrive at the scene.

Mr. Muinde reported minor injuries but declined treatment, police said. He was ticketed for failure to control his vehicle.