Chemical spill on 144 causes traffic shutdown, cleanup

Bargersville fire

Hundreds of gallons of phosphoric acid leaked from a semi-truck onto County Road 144 west of State Road 37 this morning, causing both roads to be closed as first responders worked to determine what chemical had been spilled.

The phosphoric acid was for use as a metal cleaning agent. The corrosive acid would have caused contact burns had it touched anyone’s skin, Bargersville Fire Department Chief Jason Ramey said.

No one was injured, but the driver was decontaminated because he had stepped in some of the leaking material, Ramey said.

A driver following a semi-truck that was headed west on County Road 144 about 7:20 a.m. noticed a chemical leaking from the truck. The driver called 911, and the Bargersville Police Department stopped the truck west of State Road 37, Ramey said.

The driver wasn’t aware of what he was carrying, meaning that the chemical could have been anything from a harmless and edible food additive to something dangerous and corrosive, he said.

County Road 144 and its intersection with State Road 37 were closed as a precautionary measure. Employees and patrons at a nearby gas station and restaurant were asked to stay inside, Ramey said.

Not knowing what the liquid was, the Greenwood Fire Department’s hazmat team was called to the scene, he said.

Tests on the scene showed that it was phosphoric acid that had been stored in a 260-gallon tank inside the box-trailer. The chemical had leaked from the trailer onto the road and into a nearby drainage ditch, Ramey said.

No one was injured by the chemicals, and the leak shouldn’t impact any water supplies. The semi-driver, who had stepped in some of it at the scene, was decontaminated, he said.

The remaining issue is the environmental impact of the spill. A clean-up company is coming to dig up the soil and do some testing, Ramey said.

County Road 144 and State Road 37 were open as of about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, but may close temporarily later today during the cleanup, he said.

The Bargersville Fire Department, Bargersville Police Department, Indiana State Police and the Greenwood Fire Department all responded to the scene, Ramey said.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2702.