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Tractor-Trailer Crash Involving Hazardous Material Closes W.Va. Turnpike

Upended tractor trailer on highway
Overturned Tractor-Trailer on West Virginia Turnpike.
West Virginia Department of Transportation

Updated on Sept. 28, 2023 at 10:56 a.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and several other state and local agencies are responding to a tractor trailer crash that occurred on the West Virginia Turnpike near mile marker 62 in Fayette County Thursday morning. The truck was headed northbound and hauling approximately 4,500 gallons of an ammonium nitrate and water solution.

The material has been contained to a ditch line and emergency crews are digging additional containment measures to capture the product and prevent further migration. No streams have been impacted at this time and WVDEP staff and other officials are monitoring the spill closely.

Ammonium nitrate is predominantly used in agriculture as a fertilizer. No evacuation orders have been issued at this time.

An environmental contractor, Evergreen Environmental, is currently on site to remediate the area and an additional contractor is en route to the scene to pump the remaining product from the tractor trailer. No timetable for completion of the cleanup has been set at this time. 

The agencies involved include the WVDEP’s Homeland Security and Emergency Response, Hazardous Waste, and Environmental Enforcement units, West Virginia State Police, the State Fire Marshal, Fayette County Emergency Management, and fire department crews from Charleston, Pax, and Mt. Hope.

Updated on Sept. 28, 2023 at 10:33 a.m.

Jeff Miller, executive director of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, said the southbound lanes of I-77 reopened a little after 9:30 a.m., he said northbound lanes could be closed for several hours. Miller said the chemicals from the tractor-trailer did not get into nearby streams.

Miller said Turnpike Detour A will be in effect until the Turnpike reopens. Traffic heading north will take the North Beckley Exit (Exit 48) to US 19, then take US 19 to Interstate 79 near Sutton. Drivers can then take I-79 to Charleston. The detour is approximately 125 miles.

Southbound traffic will see local detours until cleanup is finished.

Original Post

The West Virginia Parkways Authority reports the crash happened in northbound lanes near mile marker 62 in Fayette County, about 6:40 a.m. Both northbound and southbound lanes are currently closed in that area.

Authority communications personnel say the tractor-trailer was carrying 44,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a hazardous and flammable compound.

Several agencies, including the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia State Police and others are currently on scene.

The turnpike is expected to be closed in both directions until crews can clear the scene. No timetable has been given so far. 

Officials say the driver was not hurt in the incident. Traffic is being detoured using a pre-designated plan provided by the Parkways Authority:

If I-77 southbound is closed between exits 85 and 48, traffic will be notified of the closure and if required, detoured at Charleston onto I-79 northbound. Detoured drivers will proceed north on to exit 57 and will then be directed to U.S. 19, where they will travel south to Beckley. From there, drivers can take the exit 48 entrance ramp to I-77 and proceed south.

Motorists traveling east on I-64 will take exit 59 onto I-77 north and will be directed onto I-79 north at exit 104 (I-77) interchange. From here, drivers should proceed with the detour outlined above. If the northbound lanes of I-77 are closed between exits 85 and 44, drivers will be directed to take exit 48 and continue north on U.S. 19 to the exit 57, I-77/U.S. 19 interchange. From there, drivers will proceed south on I-79 to the exit 104 interchange. Drivers will then have the option to proceed north or south on I-77.

Updates on when the turnpike will reopen will come on WV 511.