Chemicals-Carrying Big Rig Tips Over, Blocks Traffic

A tractor-trailer hauling chemicals overturned early this morning shutting down a busy area highway through the morning rush and into the afternoon.

The big rig tipped around 3:30 a.m. blocking parts of the eastbound and westbound lanes, taking out the guard rail of the Route 30 bypass in Chester County, Pa. between Airport Road and Route 82.

The crash blocked traffic in both directions until 1 p.m., according to Pennsylvania State Police.

The tractor-trailer, which weighs more than 13 tons, carried more than 10,000 pounds of corrosive Sodium hydroxide and 500 pounds of liquid corrosives, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Sodium hydroxide, a.k.a. lye, is used in "many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners, cements, and many others," according to the National Institutes of Health. It is also commonly found in household drain cleaners, hair straighteners, metal polishes and oven cleaners.

Exposure to the chemical can cause breathing troubles, throat pain, possible diarrhea and skin burns, according to NIH.

There was no spill, according to police.

County dispatchers told NBC10 that they expected it could take six to seven hours to clear the scene. Crews could be seen tearing back the top of the big rig so that the chemicals, loaded in boxes, could be unloaded. Once off the truck, the boxes were stacked on the roadway.

NBC10 traffic reporter Jillian Mele suggested Lincoln Highway (Business Route 30) or Route 322 as alternates.

One person was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

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