Last Updated: 8:23 p.m. p.m.
A truck carrying diluted sulfuric acid spilled some 300 gallons of the liquid at the intersection of State Road 100 and State Road A1A in Flagler Beach earlier this morning.
The spill soaked into the dunes on the east side of A1A, but caused no injuries. But because of the hazardous nature of the liquid, authorities closed A1A to traffic between North 4th Street and South 5th Street, Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom said. The closure zone also includes side streets to Central Avenue.
Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito said some 300 gallons spilled. The sulfuric acid was diluted by 50 percent. “It’s an inhalation hazard and it’s corrosive, so you can imagine what it can do to you,” Petito said, likening the liquid to what’s found in vehicle batteries. “It’ll destroy any vegetation that it comes in contact with.”
The company hauling the chemical is Dumont Chemical Company of Apopka. The truck was hauling several drums, only one of which fell and spilled. “I would prefer to see something that’s actually in writing that identifies what they’re hauling,” Newsom said.
An aerial view of the spill photographed by Flagler County Fire Flight (see below) shows the spill extending along the east side shoulder of A1A some 20 to 30 yards, and into the vegetation. “This did impact about three feet of the roadway,” Flagler County Public Safety Emergency Manager Steve Garten said in a county-issued release.
Several local and state agencies have been alerted and many of them are at the scene, including the Flagler Beach Fire Department, Flagler County Emergency Management, Flagler County Fire Rescue, the Flagler Beach Police Department, Flagler Beach Fire Police, Palm Coast Fire Police, as well as the St. Johns County Fire Rescue Hazmat team.
“They’ve since gone in with their chemical suits and biocarbonate and they’re attempting to neutralize the spill at this point,” Bobby Pace, the Flagler Beach Fire Department captain (and chief), said from the scene at 12:20 p.m. An additional clean-up company was awaited, along with an additional 250 pounds of bicarbonate. The Department of Environmental Protection’s officials from Jacksonville are also expected. They would then “evaluate the spill and give the all clear,” Pace said.
Most businesses are carrying on, including Finn’s, the restaurant at the corner of A1A and State Road 100, albeit at a slow pace near the “hot zone,” Pace said, but a block away in either direction business activity is near normal, there is activity on the pier, and people are flying their kites from the beach. The beach itself was briefly shut down close to the hot zone, but has since been reopened, with cautions to beach-goers to stay away from the road in that area.
Pace said that the zone would remain closed to traffic for “at least a couple more hours,” pushing that closure at least to 2:30 p.m.
At 2:40 p.m., as roads remained closed, the county issued an update stating that Hazmat crews have neutralized the spill and the Department of Environmental Protection has approved a contractor to commence mop-up procedures.
“That crew should be here in about 30 minutes,” Garten said shortly before 2 p.m. “Once clean-up has been completed the scene will be turned over to the Department of Transportation, which will determine whether the integrity of A1A has been compromised before reopening it. We don’t know how long all of that will take.”
Flagler Beach Police Captain Matt Doughney said the situation remains under investigation, but charges against the driver are pending.
Just after 5 p.m., roads reopened partially, with full lanes set to open later this evening, Pace said. SWS Environmental Services, a contractor for the Dumont Chemical Company responsible for the spill, was brought in to excavate neutralized sand along the roadway. (See the image above.) The shoulder will be filled with replacement sand when the excavation is complete, a county release noted this evening. TME Enterprises, a contractor for the Department of Transportation, will given final approval of the full opening of State Road A1A.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]