Emergency situation closes roundabout

Eric McCarthy
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O’LEARY CORNER -- The O’Leary Corner roundabout was closed to traffic in all directions for over seven hours Thursday, and a nearby Tim Hortons restaurant evacuated, after a transport truck and trailer carrying pelletized ammonium nitrate overturned as it exited the circle. 

Emergency crews proceeded cautiously with the situation, making sure none of the ammonium nitrate, a chemical destined for the McCain’s Fertilizer plant in Bloomfield, mixed with the truck’s diesel fuel. Those two substances, when mixed, can cause an explosion if exposed to a spark, explained provincial fire marshal, Dave Rossiter. Rossiter is head of the provincial Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) team that responded to the emergency situation. 

Some fuel had leaked, but Rossiter said the O’Leary Volunteer Fire Department ensured there was no mixing. The department kept hose lines charged, ready in case there were any fires or sparks to extinguish.

Fire chief Blair Perry said no water had to be sprayed.

Maritime Electric shut down power in the area for a short period as a precaution.

Departments of Highways and Environment as well as the RCMP and Island EMS were on scene.

The truck and trailer were carrying between 30 and 32 tonnes of chemical which had to be emptied before they could be up-righted. They were hauled form the scene around 6 p.m. but equipment was still on scene collecting the chemical.

Rossiter said a private environmental company from Charlottetown was called in to drain the diesel fuel before the pin was pulled to separate the truck from its trailer.

Throughout the operation traffic was diverted away from the O’Leary Corner, sending highway traffic onto routes 12 at Cascumpec and Route 14 at Coleman or onto the Howlan and Mill Roads. Two vehicles travelling the ice-covered Howlan Road slid off that road around 3:30 p.m., resulting in some emergency personnel being temporarily redeployed there.

Organizations: O’Leary Volunteer Fire Department, Maritime Electric, RCMP

Geographic location: Bloomfield, Charlottetown, Howlan Road

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