Crash of Truck Laden With Ammonia Killed 5

Another 5 were seriously injured in central Illinois
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 1, 2023 6:52 AM CDT
Crash of Truck Laden With Ammonia Killed 5
Emergency responders set up a staging area near Teutopolis High School on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Teutopolis, Ill.   (Jeff Long/Effingham Daily News via AP)

Five people were killed and five were seriously injured in a truck accident involving a toxic leak in central Illinois, authorities said Saturday. A semi carrying caustic anhydrous ammonia overturned about 9:25pm Friday in Teutopolis, spilling more than half its 7,500-gallon load, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said the five dead included three from the same family: one adult and two children under 12. The other two were adult motorists from out of state, Rhodes said. Additionally, five people were airlifted to hospitals, their conditions unknown, per the AP.

About 500 residents within a 1-mile radius of the crash site on US Highway 40 were evacuated after the accident. Late Saturday night, Teutopolis Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Joe Holomy said testing found the area was safe for residents to return home. Private and federal environmental contractors were summoned to recommend a cleanup procedure in Teutopolis, a town of 1,600 about 110 miles northeast of St. Louis. The National Transportation Safety Board will review the crash.

The accident caused "a large plume ... of anhydrous ammonia on the roadway that caused terribly dangerous air conditions in the northeast area of Teutopolis," said Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns. "Because of these conditions, the emergency responders had to wait. They had to mitigate the conditions before they could really get to work on it, and it was a fairly large area." Anhydrous ammonia is used by farmers to add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil and as a refrigerant in the cooling systems of large buildings such as warehouses and factories. According to the American Chemical Society, it is carried around the United States by pipeline, trucks, and trains.

(More ammonia stories.)

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