- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

Traffic was snarled on both loops of the Capital Beltway for almost four hours last night after a two-vehicle collision in Marlowe Heights caused a tanker truck carrying a corrosive substance to overturn, leaking some of the hazardous material onto the roadway.
Eyewitnesses told police officials that the driver of a Chevrolet Lumina changed lanes and struck a truck on the Inner Loop of Interstate 495 between Allentown and Auth roads. Both drivers sustained minor injuries, officials said.
"Charges will be forthcoming," said Cpl. Rob Moroney, a Maryland State Police spokesman, adding that his agency's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division will spearhead the investigation.
The truck driver, 54, was taken to Southern Maryland Hospital with minor injuries and the driver of the Chevrolet, 42, was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, according to Mark Brady, a Prince George's fire department spokesman.
Three Prince George's County police officers, who were at the scene of the accident that occurred about 6 p.m., came into contact with fluid leaking from two cracks in the truck and were taken to area hospitals. The officers complained of chest pains, tingling and difficulty in breathing, officials said.
Three civilians who tried to help also came in contact with the vapors and were treated, bringing to eight the number of injured, officials said. All injuries are believed to be minor.
"I don't think any of these people's injuries are serious," said Mr. Brady.
The truck was hauling 4,500 gallons of ferric chloride, a nontoxic solution used to dissolve solids in wastewater treatment, he said.
The cleanup began after officials called in a second tanker truck from the same company, which arrived at 9:15. The Maryland Department of the Environment, which is overseeing the cleanup, had workers drill a hole into the top of the overturned truck, insert a vacuum hose and suck the solution into a new truck.
Both the inner and outer loops of the Beltway were closed and traffic was rerouted in various directions, according to the state police, who said authorities considered but then ruled out evacuations for public safety purposes.
At its worse, the accident caused backups for five miles southbound and four miles northbound on the Beltway.
At 9:10 p.m., officials opened the two right-side lanes of the Outer Loop. By 10 p.m., they planned to open the two right-hand lanes of the Inner Loop.
An official said the accident was "well-placed" because it occurred near a passage between the inner and outer loops and was helpful in getting traffic out of the way.


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