The tanker trailer that rolled on I-15 Wednesday morning is now upright. Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety
I-15 reopens hours after tanker with ammonium nitrate rolled; both southbound, northbound lanes clear
By Gephardt Daily Staff - October 5, 2016
MIDVALE, Utah, Oct. 5, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Cleanup and side street traffic jams continued until the early evening Wednesday after a rolled semi carrying potentially dangerous load forced the closure of Interstate 15 during morning rush hour and throughout the day.
Southbound I-15 lanes reopened by about 3 p.m. and northbound lanes opened just before 5 p.m., when the tanker had been safely removed.
Marissa Villaseñor, spokeswoman for Utah Highway Patrol, said the multi-vehicle crash at approximately 9:15 a.m. involved a truck trailer, two vehicles, and a semi hauling ammonium nitrate, which is a combustible and can be explosive. Troopers said the crash was caused after a small trailer attached to a pickup truck came loose.
The second trailer attached to the semi hauling the ammonium nitrate overturned, but did not leak. No one was injured in the crash.
Villaseñor said everyone within a 150-foot radius needed to be evacuated so the scene could be assessed and cleaned up. The interstate was at a standstill for multiple hours, and serious congestion on alternate routes continued through much of the day.
Two large cranes were brought to the scene, and lifted the tanker into the upright position. Moving the tanker was then delayed until officials were convinced they could do it safely.
SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — I-15 in Salt Lake County has reopened after an hours-long closure Wednesday.
Around 9:30 Wednesday morning, an accident involving a semi carrying ammonium nitrate forced the closure of I-15 northbound and southbound near 6100 South, and lightning temporarily forced all public safety personnel at the scene to clear the area.
The Utah Highway Patrol said a white pickup truck hauling a tar trailer caused the accident when the trailer came loose on the highway, striking a tanker truck carrying hazardous material. The tanker flipped on its side with ammonium nitrate inside, a chemical which is used in mining explosions.
“We’re not sure how the trailer came unhitched, but we’ve cited the driver for it,” said Lieutenant Jeff Nigbur of the Utah Highway Patrol.
Around 3:10 p.m. authorities stated that the crashed tanker had been righted and they were in the process of lifting all of the closures with the exception of northbound I-15.
The closure of northbound I-15 will remain in place until the tanker can be safely removed, and the closure starts at the SB-215 interchange, which will allow traffic to be diverted.
“This is probably the biggest traffic event I’ve seen in Salt Lake County in probably 16 years,” Lt. Nigbur said.
“The road closures, it’s an absolute mess in this area,” Lt. Nigbur added.
Previously, all roads within a half-mile radius were shut down as crews worked to move the tanker upright. Just before 2:30 p.m. authorities stated that all personnel were pulled from the area due to lightning strikes, however, a short time later crews were given the all-clear to return.
The closures in place earlier included:
• Northbound I-15 is closed at 9000 S.
• Southbound I-15 traffic will be diverted to westbound I-215.
• Westbound I-215 is closed at Union Park
• Eastbound I-215 is closed at Redwood Rd.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, the semi was carrying an emulsion, which must be mixed with another chemical to explode.
UHP said the second trailer on the semi carrying the ammonium nitrate emulsion overturned but was not leaking.
No one was seriously injured.
Around 2:25 p.m. Murray School District stated on Facebook that the crash was likely to result in delays for students busing home from school.