Chemical leak closes intersection: County Road 144 shut down as precaution after incident with semi

Hundreds of gallons of phosphoric acid leaked from a semi onto a major Johnson County intersection Wednesday, causing both roads to be closed as first responders worked to determine what chemical had been spilled.

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

The spill happened on County Road 144, west of State Road 37 about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday.

A driver following a semi that was headed west on 144 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 chemical was leaking. He had the proper paperwork, but there were several containers of chemicals in the truck and it wasn’t immediately clear which one was leaking, 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 hazard materials team was called to the scene, he said.

Tests showed that the substance 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.

The leak shouldn’t impact any water supplies, he said. The semi-driver, who had stepped in some of it at the scene, was decontaminated.

The remaining issue is the environmental impact of the spill. A clean-up company began digging up the soil for testing, Ramey said.

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

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