Driver will get bill for Route 8 spill
Updated 11:26 pm, Friday, March 7, 2014
ANSONIA -- The driver of a truck trailer that spilled a toxic chemical onto Route 8 Thursday afternoon will be billed for the repairs to the road, state officials said Friday.
Chris Roche, 38, of Bayberry Road in Fairfield, was found by State Police to be at fault for the accident that forced the closing of a northbound section of the highway for 14 hours and required the milling of the road surface to remove the tainted asphalt.
A tractor-trailer trying to avoid Roche's truck jack-knifed near the scene, further complicating efforts to reopen the major highway in the Naugatuck Valley. While there were no injuries from either accident, thousands of northbound travelers were affected throughout the evening commute.
Roche's 2004 Ford F-250 pickup, pulling a 24-foot enclosed box trailer swerved from the right lane, "for an unknown reason,'' the accident report stated, and struck the metal guard rail at the edge of the highway. The vehicle then veered to the left, crossed the busy Route 8 and struck the cement barrier in the median, spilling the 55-gallon drum barrels.
The impact caused at least two of the drums to break open, spilling the hazardous chemical compound onto the roadway, where it froze before it could be cleaned up.
"I don't know what happened,'' Roche said Friday afternoon. "There was nothing in front of me and nothing behind me. I just lost control.''
He said during a brief phone interview from his home that he was doing a favor for another company, which couldn't make the delivery because a truck was disabled.
The material was described as a blend of iso-cyanate derivatives by representatives of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It is used to make foam insulation, in paint and in a protective coating to line truck beds, according to a fact sheet from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The chemical compound is considered toxic and can cause lung and liver damage if not properly handled, according to the CDC website.
"The costs for the cleanup, milling and staff time will be passed on to the responsible party,''said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. "I don't have a cost at this point, and that might have to come from more than one (state) agency.''
That section of Route 8, just beyond the Division Street exit in Derby, had been milled and paved last summer, Nursick said. The overnight repairs are temporary.
"The milled section will be repaved this spring or summer,'' the DOT spokesman said.
"The cost again will be passed on to the responsible party.''
The section of northbound Route 8 was reopened at about 4:30 a.m., in time for commuters who use the highway to reach the Naugatuck Valley towns and Waterbury.
During Thursday afternoon's commute, traffic was detoured off Route 8 at Exit 17, causing a backup that at one point stretched 10 miles south to Trumbull, officials said. Local streets on the West Side of Ansonia were gridlocked for hours.
Schools in Ansonia and Derby warned parents that some buses could be delayed by the traffic, and suggested that they use alternate routes.