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Hazmat truck of hydrofluoric acid overturns, prompts evacuation

A truck loaded with 32,000 pounds of pressurized hydrofluoric acid overturned in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, at 2:58 AM Saturday morning, prompting evacuation of everyone within a one mile radius.

The truck was operated by Honeywell, the worlds largest producer of hydrofluoric acid. Reportedly, the trucker from Ontario, Canada, left the road when the swerved to avoid a deer.

The acid leak was stoped by noon, and the 5000 evacuees began returning home in the afternoon.

According to the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta, Georgia, hydrogen fluoride is a hazardous chemical compound used mainly for industrial purposes such as etching glass, and is extremely corrosive. It also is an ingredient in high-octane gasoline, refrigerants, aluminum and light bulbs. Contact with concentrated solutions can cause severe burns, and the gas causes respiratory irritation, severe eye damage and pulmonary edema.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations include strict rules on transporation of hazardous substances, require at least $5 million liability insurance coverage of hazmat truckers, and specify limited routes for hazmat trucking.

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He is listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. A former chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, he is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Plaintiffs’ Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the nearly 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.