- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

A tanker truck carrying a potentially fatal chemical careened off the Capital Beltway during last evening's rush hour, leaking deadly fumes and snarling traffic for hours.
The driver of a single-axle tanker carrying about 500 gallons of hypochloride a more powerful, concentrated solution of household chlorine lost control of his vehicle between Georgia and Connecticut avenues on the outer loop near the Mormon Temple.
The truck did not turn over, officials said, but it did begin leaking fumes and the corrosive solution onto the road.
Sgt. Carlos Hall of the Maryland State Police said that the truck did not hit another vehicle, and that authorities were still trying to determine what caused the driver to lose control.
Curtis Richardson III of the 3400 block of Dodge Park Road in Landover was operating the 1992 International tanker truck that is owned by Schirmers LLC of Falls Church. The truck's load began to spew from the tank, state police said.
Mr. Richardson was charged with three traffic violations having an unsecured load, driving with a suspended license and driving while unqualified, police said.
Montgomery County fire department and hazardous materials teams were called about 3:30 p.m., Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Lt. Oscar Garcia said.
"The cars in the immediate area of the accident were evacuated to the east side of the Beltway," hesaid.
He said Mr. Richardson sustained minor injuries and was taken to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda for observation. Luis Femenia, 40, a State Highway Administration worker, also was sent to Suburban as a precaution after being exposed to the fumes.
Lt. Garcia said a woman stuck in traffic had an asthma attack but was able to get herself to the hospital after being attended to by the medical crews on the scene.
Maryland State Police and Montgomery County officers immediately closed both the inner and outer loops of the Beltway, wreaking havoc on thousands of motorists during their already congested commute home.
The inner loop was opened about 6:30 p.m., Lt. Garcia said. Two lanes on the outer loop were reopened about an hour later. Traffic on the Beltway was backed up into Prince George's County to the east and Fairfax County to the west.
The truck was taken to a secure location where the material was unloaded, Lt. Garcia said.
Nearby streets, including Forest Glen Road and Georgia Avenue, were backed up for miles well into the evening with commuters trying to avoid the problems on the Beltway.
More than 200,000 cars travel on the Beltway each day between Georgia and Connecticut avenues.


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