By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — CHAMPLAIN — A late-night ethyl-alcohol spill from a tractor-trailer made for a cleanup still underway Thursday afternoon at the Champlain Port of Entry.
The cause of the leak was not yet known, Champlain Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pete Timmons said.
“They noticed it after (the truck driver) left the inspection station (and) stopped him at the last booth before he got on the highway.”
The Port of Entry opens onto Interstate 87 in Champlain.
Traffic was moving through the border normally by Thursday evening, according to Clinton County Dispatch.
The Champlain Fire Department was called to the border at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Timmons said. When they arrived, residue was visible on the road, as was a slow leak coming from the rear of the tractor-trailer.
It took just a few minutes to determine the substance was ethyl alcohol, he said.
The truck driver provided the Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) papers to fire personnel, and they followed procedure for the spill, rerouting traffic through a back access to the border, with vehicles directed past the U.S. General Services Administration and out to West Service Road, Timmons said.
There wasn’t a risk of the alcohol catching fire because the substance’s temperature was below the 55-degree flashpoint, Timmons said.
“It’s like gas. It’s a flammable liquid. At a certain point, it flashes over and ignites.”
Timmons expressed his thanks to all the agencies that responded to the leak and put in long hours to ensure the safety of those entering Champlain from Quebec.
He and between 10 and 15 other Champlain firefighters helped there all through the night and Thursday morning, with a team of six from the Burlington office of Environmental Product and Services Inc. still cleaning up the spill at 2 p.m.
“They’re still transferring containers and pallets from one (truck) to the other one,” Timmons said.
Assisting firefighters at the site of the spill were State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and representatives from the State Department of Transportation.
It was unknown how long the cleanup process would take.
Initially, workers had put a drying agent on the road to absorb the liquid and took soil samples to see if the alcohol had contaminated the surrounding ground, Timmons said.
The driver of the 18-wheeler, whose name was not available, was trucking the alcohol to New Jersey, where it was intended to be used in hair solutions to make products like hair dye, the fire chief said.
Rouses Point Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were placed on standby at Champlain’s station, and four Clinton County fire coordinators assisted in the response.
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