Breaking News: Hazardous material spill near Elko reroutes traffic

Breaking News: Hazardous material spill near Elko reroutes traffic

Breaking News: Hazardous material spill near Elko reroutes traffic

A tanker crash early this morning has caused road closures on I-80. The tanker carried an unnamed material which is hazardous if inhaled. An alternate route between Elko and Wells could add an extra hour of travel time between those areas.

The tanker was headed westbound on I-80 at about 7:15 this morning. For unknown reasons, the tanker crashed near mile marker 323, about 20 miles east of Elko. The truck rolled into the median and entered the eastbound lane. Both lanes of the interstate were closed due to the hazardous material.

“The winds are calm, the temperature is cold, and there's no structures or residences in that area. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It's not really a public safety concern; we're just keeping the highway blocked,” Stewart said, “Don't get close to that inhalation hazard until we get it cleaned up.”

Elko Fire Department the Nevada Department of Transportation are currently on-scene. HAZMAT teams are en route. Stewart expected I-80 to be closed for most of the day.

Eastbound traffic is being rerouted through Secret Pass on Route 229. Traffic will then be diverted to US-93, where travelers can head either to Las Vegas or Wells en route to Salt Lake City.

Westbound traffic will be diverted from US-93 at Wells and through Secret Pass on Route 229.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart said that the new route would cause significant delays. Stewart suggested that those traveling between Winnemucca and Salt Lake City fill up their gas tanks in Elko as the new route will add between 45 minutes and an hour to their trips.

There was no word on the condition of the tanker driver.

Update: Stewart has confirmed that the spilled material was ammonium bisulfite. Approximately 51,000 gallons of the chemical were loosed onto the interstate.

The HAZMAT arrived at the site for cleanup earlier this afternoon. Stewart said the team would work through the night to clean up the substance. NDOT is delivering portable lights to the scene to allow the team to work after sunset.

Because it is dangerous to inhale the chemical, Nevada Highway Patrol was required to close a long distance of I-80. Stewart said the agency was concerned as the effects of the chemical are not immediate. “You can go to the scene, but you won't know that you're affected until later,” Stewart said, “We don't want that to happen.”

NHP personnel are busy keeping the public back from the scene and maintaining a safe distance from the scene themselves as the HAZMAT team works.

“I don't have an exact time,” Stewart said, “51,000 gallons is a lot of HAZMAT to get cleaned up.”