NEW ALBANY – Traffic was backed up about two and one-half miles in each direction for most of the day Wednesday after a tanker truck carrying about 4,500 gallons of hydrogen peroxide overturned in the median of I-22.
By 8 p.m. Wednesday, MDOT said right lanes eastbound and westbound were free but left lanes going both directions were still blocked late into the evening.
Traffic continued to be backed up all the way to Hwy. 30 late in the afternoon because of the bottleneck merging traffic on the offramp to two-lane Hwy. 178.
The accident happened about 8 a.m. near mile marker 59 west of New Albany and emergency personnel were keeping everyone a half mile back from the truck as the hydrogen peroxide vapor escaped from a crack in the tanker.
Although the scene was still active and no investigation had begun about 9 a.m., the driver appeared to be unhurt and no major fire had occurred. Traffic was rerouted onto Hwy. 178 between the Myrtle and Glenfield exits.
Local emergency personnel called in the Department of Environmental Quality to assess the situation and a special response team from Tupelo backed up local firefighting units and brought air quality measuring equipment to make sure the area was safe.
Various county volunteer fire departments were called all morning and part of the afternoon to send tanker trucks, presumably to dilute the hydrogen peroxide to a safe level.
Highly diluted hydrogen peroxide is safe and used for antiseptic home treatment but in its concentrated form can be irritating, corrosive and lead to fire or explosion when in contact with some other materials.
Myrtle Attendance Center was briefly advised to shut windows and turn off air conditioning but the warning was soon lifted and testing resumed. Student pickup locations were changed, partly due to the closing of I-22 and heavy detour traffic by the school, and the highway was closed long enough to allow buses onto it.