What everyone fears occurred on Monday: a tractor-trailer crash, one dead, a hazardous materials spill, and a busy highway closed for an extended time.
The wreck occurred about 1:15 p.m. on Highway 225 near Pasadena. According to news accounts, an 18-wheeler loaded with an inflammable liquid veered from the freeway and smashed into a line carrying propylene, which was then released into the environment. The crash involved fire and a fatality, claiming the life of the truck driver. For more than four hours, lanes were closed in both directions, and then afterwards for westbound traffic, the direction the truck was headed at the time of the incident.
Hazmat crews worked diligently to stop the chemical release, and finally controlled the pipeline without the necessity of the evacuation of businesses or residences.
At present, no official cause of the collision has been released.
This tragic incident serves as a warning. Trucks serve a vital role in our economy’s transportation matrix. Yet, they pose serious, even deadly, risks upon other motorists, the community at large, and even their drivers. As a result, it is essential that drivers be adequately trained and sufficiently rested. In addition, safety demands that the rigs be regularly inspected and repaired. While shippers themselves bear the initial responsibility to require such measures, we must go further and, through law enforcement and the court system, hold them accountable when they deviate from these standards.