The truck driver whose load of a noxious gas wafted from a tanker, leading to the shutdown of Airport-Fernwood Road on Tuesday night and Wednesday, was booked into the Pike County jail on charges related to the incident.
John E. Boaz, 65, of Bonnerdale, Ark., is charged with leaving of haz-mat cargo, not having appropriate documents and leaving the scene of a haz-mat incident unattended.
MHP Spokesperson Trooper Craig James said Boaz was charged for allegedly not staying with the load and for not making himself immediately available to authorities.
Boaz was hauling a load of the chemical north from Norco, La., to Hot Springs, Ark., for Time Dedicated Carriers of Rockport, Ind., when he pulled over at the northbound Fernwood exit of Interstate 55 around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Pike County Emergency Management official Tina Reed said a fax from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency indicated Boaz that called his employer to report the leak at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday and pulled off at the exit around 9 p.m.
Boaz placed a bucket underneath the spill and an MEMA official arrived at the scene and placed a kiddie pool underneath the truck after the employer notified the agency.
That person notified Highway Patrol, which arrived to the scene at around midnight.
Reed said the fax from MEMA indicated the truck was hauling a load of a dichlorobutene trademarked as crude O.C.T., a mixture of industrial chemicals used in the production of oil and petroleum, insecticides, pharmaceuticals and rubber.
“The chemical being hauled was extremely hazardous and flammable,” James said.
Boaz apparently identified a malfunction in the tank, which was not releasing toxic gas at the time. Boaz left the scene and didn’t call in the incident to authorities until about 9 a.m.
Pike County Emergency Managements and Civil Defense officials arrived on the scene around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Later that morning, fumes were seen spewing out of the underside of the tank and officials with the MHP, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Transportation closed both interstate exits and Airport-Fernwood Road. Exits remained closed well into the evening Wednesday.