Acid in trash truck prompts HazMat response

Acid in trash truck prompts HazMat response

SPOKANE, Wash. - A gallon of acid dumped in the trash prompted a hazardous materials response by the Spokane Fire Department and closed down a section of Wellesley Avenue for two hours Wednesday morning.

Wellesley Avenue was blocked off from Crestline St. to North Stone St. from 9 to 11 a.m. as firefighters were determining if the material was a threat. The incident commander said a clear liquid, later identified as acid, began bubbling in the back of a Waste Management garbage truck and producing a vapor.

The truck was stopped and fire crews responded to the scene, establishing a cordon around the vehicle and telling residents in six nearby homes to stay inside and keep their windows closed until the substance was identified.

Since the truck was parked across from a Walgreen's pharmacy, the store was closed and employees evacuated as a precaution.

After getting a sample of the liquid inside the truck and testing it, fire crews confirmed it was acid.

"Turned out to be a strong acid which we neutralized with soda ash which we carry on the truck for situations like this," said Lieutenant DJ Hill with the Spokane Fire Department.

The substance was muriatic acid to be exact. A common hazardous material sold at home improvement stores. There is no ordinance or law to keep you from disposing of hazardous material in the trash but officials say there are safer ways to get rid of it.

The best way is to dispose of hazardous materials is to take it yourself to the Waste to Energy plant but, in the incident this morning, the truck crew canceled the rest of their route and returned to the Waste to Energy plant to dispose of the acid.