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Truck Removed, But Questions Linger

August 26, 1987

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ An overturned tanker truck carrying liquid hydrogen was removed from the intersection of two highways Wednesday, and City Council members were surprised to find that an ordinance banning such hazardous shipments was not being enforced.

The truck, owned by the Linde Division of Union Carbide, was removed from the I-70 and I-71 interchange east of downtown shortly after the Wednesday morning rush hour, about 14 hours after it overturned while carrying 15,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen.

There were no serious injuries. Fire officials, who had feared an explosion, had asked residents within a half-mile to leave their homes Tuesday night. They were allowed to return Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, City Council members expressed frustration that a 2-year-old ordinance designed to limit hazardous materials to the city’s outskirts had not been enforced.

″Frankly, we thought it was being enforced,″ said Councilman M.D. Portman.

″I’m thankful that no one was seriously injured or killed,″ said Councilman Charles A. Mentel, who introduced the legislation. ″Secondly, I’m angry at myself for not checking into it. I feel responsible, and I should have followed up on it.″

Dwayne Pielech, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the law was not enforced because the department and the Federal Highway Administration had not approved installation of signs outlining the regulations to restrict trucks carrying hazardous materials to I-270, which rings the state capital.

ODOT wasn’t notified of the ordinance until last summer, Pielech said, and did not start working with the federal agency to implement the law until last month.

″There’s more to the issue than giving approval and placing signs on the freeway,″ he said.

He said ODOT planned to advise the city to submit a sign design to the state and federal governments for approval of wording, design and location.

″We’re confident that the concept will be approved, but it’s a technicality that we must follow procedure,″ he said.

The truck was en route to Louisville, Ky., from Ashtabula in northeast Ohio when it skidded out of control about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The driver, Jerry Schoonover, 45, of Bristolville, Ohio, was released after treatment at Grant Hospital for cuts on his arms and left ear, said hospital spokesman Dan Armitage.

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