US 59 IS CLOSED BETWEEN SHEPHERD AND CLEVELAND. A FEDERAL EXPRESS TRUCK WITH LIQUID ORGANIC PEROXIDE HAS BROKEN DOWN AND THE REFRIGERATION UNIT IS OUT. THIS HAS POTENTIAL FOR FIRE IF IT REACHES 50 DEGREES . AT THIS TIME FIREFIGHTERS ARE PACKING ICE INTO THE TRUCK.
BUSINESSES AROUND PERFORMANCE TRUCKING HAVE BEEN EVACUATED.
MOTORISTS WHO ARE SOUTHBOUND ON 59 SOUTH OF CLEVELAND PLEASE STAY IN THE RIGHT LANE AS DPS IS ESCORTING HARRIS COUNTY HAZMAT NORTHBOUND IN THE SOUTHBOUND LANESMOTORISTS SOUTHBOUND AT SHEPHERD EXIT ON FM 223 TO THE EAST AND TAKE IT UNTIL IT DEAD ENDS INTO FM 787 THEN TURN RIGHT INTO CLEVELAND
NORTH BOUND TRAFFIC IS AT A STAND STILL AND WILL BE FOR HOURS
JULY 11, 2014
CLEVELAND HAZMAT SCENE CLOSES US 59
About 3:45 Friday afternoon a truck driver from Kentucky was heading southbound on US 59 between Shepherd and Cleveland when the truck in which he was driving indicated the refrigeration unit had shut down. His truck which is contracted to Federal Express was loaded with approximately three thousand pounds of Liquid Organic Peroxide.
Organic peroxides are organic substances that contain the bivalent -O-O- structure and
may be considered derivatives of hydrogen peroxide, where one or both of the hydrogen
atoms have been replaced by organic radicals.
Organic peroxides are liable to exothermic decomposition at normal or elevated temperatures. The decomposition can be initiated by heat, contact with impurities (e.g. acids,
heavy-metal compounds, amines), friction or impact. The rate of decomposition increases with temperature and varies with the organic peroxide formulation. Decomposition may result in the evolution of harmful, or flammable, gases or vapors. For certain organic peroxides, the temperature shall be controlled during carriage. Some organic peroxides may decompose explosively, particularly if confined. This characteristic may be modified by the addition of diluents or by the use of appropriate packagings. Many organic peroxides burn vigorously. Contact of organic peroxides with the eyes is to be avoided. Some organic peroxides will cause serious injury to the cornea, even after brief contact, or will be corrosive to the skin.
Knowing that the rising temperatures of the product could start breaking it down to a point of a fire or explosion, the driver found a field just north of Cleveland and south of Performance Trucking to pull over away from the highway and populated areas. He then called 911 and was connected with the Cleveland dispatcher. Fire equipment from Cleveland, Tarkington, Highway 321, Hardin, Splendora and New Caney along with HAZMAT teams with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Conroe Fire Department responded to the scene.
DPS Troopers attempted to escort HAZMAT trucks from Harris County, through Montgomery County to the scene but were delayed by motorists refusing to give right of way to the responding emergency vehicles.
Both north and southbound lanes of US 59 were closed just north of the Cleveland city limits. Traffic northbound on the freeway was exited and detoured south on Washington Avenue/US 59 Business to FM 787 and then to FM 223 going to Shepherd. Southbound was also routed that way.
Another contract Federal Express truck coming from Houston delivered dry ice to the scene and the load was transferred to that truck for its journey south.
At one point with traffic so heavy and people using their cell phones actually caused delays and disruptions in cell service with some people not able to connect and others getting dropped calls.
At 6:20 pm, Rex Evans, the acting Public Information Officer for the fire departments announced the all-clear and US 59 reopened.