Chemicals Spill Into Creek Following Crash

By Cristina Frank
By Alice Maggiore

Chemicals Spill Into Creek Following Crash

August 12, 2011 Updated Aug 12, 2011 at 3:17 PM EDT

Chenango, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Broome County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate why a tractor trailer carrying chemicals crashed on Route 12 in the Town of Chenango.

It says the crash happened just before 5:30 A.M. on Friday, near Oak Hill Road.

Deputies say that's when a tractor trailer, operated by Richard Black, 59, drifted into the other lane and sideswiped another tractor trailer. The first vehicle over-corrected and continued south, but then went back across the oncoming lane of traffic, striking the edge of a small bridge before rolling over and resting in a small creek.

The crash damaged bridge guardrails, and cargo from the trailer was strewn around - including tires, containers of Milk of Magnesia, and hazardous materials.

The Broome County Health Department says a little bit of diesel and magnesium hydroxide also spilled into the creek.

The Health Department says magnesium hydroxide is an ingredient used in Pepto Bismol and laxatives, and adds it has a very low hazard rating.

The Health Department says the substance, also called milk of magnesia is more harmful to humans as a powder. Fortunately, its potency is taken away in water.

As for the diesel, the Health Department says the majority spilled along the bank.

The Department of Environmental Conservation was on the scene as of 2:00 P.M. working to clean up whatever did seep into the water, and taking pH samples.

The Broome County Health Department says it used the NY Alert System to issue a warning to surrounding neighbors to keep people from swimming, wading or fishing in the water,

Responders at the scene told Action News the Department of Environmental Conservation as well as Broome County HAZMAT were present.

Traffic was reduced to one lane as crews worked to clean up the wreckage.

While it remains unknown exactly why the tractor trailer initially came out of its lane, the Broome County Sheriff's Office told Action News at the scene of the crash Friday morning the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Broome County Sheriff David Harder says this outlines a bigger problem.

"The drivers have to get their rest more, and the companies have to make sure they get their rest, and that's where we check their log books to see if they're registered in for the amount of rest they're supposed to have," said Harder.

The Sheriff's Office issued several tickets to Black for Vehicle and Traffic law violations, including driving to the left at a curve, driving to the left of the pavement markings and failing to use the designated lane.