Portion of I-69 remains closed following tanker explosion - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Portion of I-69 remains closed following tanker explosion

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(01/03/14) - In Genesee County, a portion of I-69 is still closed as road crews work in the area where a tanker carrying crude oil crashed and burned Thursday morning.

According to a news release from MDOT, here are the current lane closures as of Friday afternoon:
- All lanes are open on westbound I-69.
- One (left) lane is open on eastbound I-69. The two (right) lanes remain closed.
- Northbound lanes are closed on Irish Road near I-69.
- Southbound Irish Road to eastbound I-69 ramp is closed, with traffic detoured east on Lapeer Road to M-15, where motorists can travel south to access the eastbound ramp to I-69.
- Northbound Irish Road to westbound I-69 is closed.
- All other ramps in the vicinity remain open.

Police say the tanker went over the guard rail and crashed onto the road just before 11 a.m. The truck was carrying 120,000 pounds of crude oil - abut 12,000 gallons - releasing potentially dangerous hydrocarbons into the air when it burned after the crash.

We're still waiting to hear back from MDOT for the latest on damage.

John Daly, with the Genesee County Road Commission, says MDOT is responsible for evaluating and repairing anything tied to the overpass and Irish Road underneath it. The Road Commission could be responsible for damages outside that area, if there are any.

We've also reached out to the state's Department of Environmental Quality for a check on air quality following the explosion and fire. We have not heard back yet. Davison-Richfield Fire Chief Mike Wright said Thursday, initial monitoring showed things appeared to be OK.

"It's crude oil. He had about 120,000 pounds of crude oil. As it burns, it does have a certain percentage of hydrogen into it. We're monitoring right now. Everything appears to be good," Wright said, Thursday.

There was an evacuation ordered at first, but it was quickly lifted, with police asking people within one mile of I-69 and Irish Road to stay inside with windows and doors closed. Several businesses were also evacuated, but are now back open.

Initial reports from workers on the scene were that the tanker was carrying a highly toxic, potentially deadly liquid gas - hydrogen sulfide. As more information came out, the good news was, the tanker was carrying crude oil, not hydrogen sulfide. There is still a real danger of becoming very sick from exposure. Read more on that, HERE.

Some of the crude oil, or "product", did get into the sewer system nearby, but crews treated it and that should be OK as well.

The driver of the tanker truck was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but is OK. He says the slippery roads caused him to lose control.

"Somehow, he came off that bridge and got out of the vehicle himself. He was standing here when I pulled up, and was talking to me," Wright said.

Wright called him "the luckiest man I know today, by far".

The driver was with a trucking company out of St. Louis, MI in Gratiot County, headed to Marysville in St. Clair County, according to the fire chief. We've reached out to the company and are waiting to hear back.

This bridge, or overpass, was just rebuilt this summer.

Stay with ABC12 News and abc12.com for updates.

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