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EMA counts vehicles with hazardous materials on Ohio 7

MARTINS FERRY — The number of vehicles carrying hazardous materials on Ohio 7 was the subject of a recent survey by county officials, and results have been released about these dangerous factors on the roads.

On Aug. 18 the Belmont County Local Emergency Planning Committee, in conjunction with the Emergency Management Agency, conducted a 24-four hour commodity flow study on Ohio 7 at Aetna Street in Bridgeport to obtain data on the various hazardous materials being transported through the county, including the quantities and time frame of these transports.

“This data is used to help the county’s first responders get a better understanding and to be able to prepare their emergency responses for the different materials,” according to an emailed release.

The United States Department of Transportation requires that vehicles transporting dangerous goods must display the appropriate DOT hazard class placards on all sides of the transporting vehicle. During the 24-hour survey period 18 volunteers and two staff logged information about vehicles with placards traveling north or south

First responders use the placard number to cross reference the shipment in the Emergency Response Guidebook. The guidebook provides first responders with critical response information on how to deal with a hazmat transportation accident during the critical first 30 minutes.

Also covered in the guidebook is how to handle small and large spills, evacuation distances in daytime or night, how to handle fires involving the chemical, personal protective equipment needs and more.

During the survey period, 342 placards were observed compared to 370 in 2019, the last time the survey was conducted at the same location. This equated to 13.5 placards per hour average versus 15.41 placards per hour in 2019.

Becky Horne, executive administrative assistant with Belmont EMA, said the office is not certain why there is a reduced number.

“We are checking with other counties to see if they are seeing the same trend or not in their county as well,” she said via email.

There were 290 tankers compared to 326 in 2019, 18 box trucks compared to 13, 13 stake trucks compared to 28, two vans compared to three in 2019, and one truck in 2022 while no trucks with placards were observed in 2019.

The busiest times were 9-10 a.m., with a total of 40 trucks passing by, 18 northbound and 22 southbound. There were about 10-15 vehicles with placards seen heading south or north past the observation post in a given time.

This year there were 74 tankers carrying elevated temperature liquids compared to 33 in 2019. Next was 68 tankers of gasoline compared to 56 in 2019. There were 44 tankers of diesel fuel and 41 in 2019, followed by 14 tankers of hydrocarbon liquids, with 33 in 2019.

Elevated temperature material means a material which, when offered for transportation or transported in a bulk packaging, is in a liquid phase and at a temperature at or above 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It is in a liquid phase with a flash point at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit that is intentionally heated and offered for transportation or transported at or above its flash point, or is in a solid phase and at a temperature at or above 464 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the EMA, the most significant material to pass through the survey was Thionyl Chloride, which is a colorless-to-yellow-to-reddish liquid with a pungent odor like sulfur dioxide. It is used as a chlorinating agent in the manufacture of organic compounds, as a solvent in lithium batteries, and in making pesticides.

Fumes form when exposed to moist air or water, and the material reacts violently with water to form sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride.

Horne said fire departments are being made aware that an accident involving this material can be difficult to handle. If there were a fire involved, responders must use dry chemical, carbon dioxide, or alcohol foam extinguishers.

Although only one tanker of this material passed through during the survey period, the report emphasizes it is a significant material that first responders must be aware of and understand how to handle. This tanker traveled through at 12:06 p.m., which is during the third busiest time for placards as well as a busy time for general highway traffic and general population increases in the region in both Ohio and West Virginia.

The EMA’s website is emaohio.org/belmont-county.

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