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Police allowed some 300 residents to return to their homes early toda

August 13, 1985

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) _ Police allowed some 300 residents to return to their homes early today after authorities emptied a 5,000-gallon tanker that leaked hazardous materials on the busy Capital Beltway and snarled rush-hour traffic.

The beltway, the region’s main expressway, was reopened at 3 a.m. after the cleaning solvent chemicals were cleaned from the road and removed in a different truck than the one that leaked, said Virginia State Police Sgt. K.W. Grant.

″All the excess has been absorbed ... we’ve got it all cleaned up,″ he said, adding that no health threat remained.

The estimated 500-gallon spill, which occurred Monday at the height of evening rush hour, caused a traffic nightmare in this Washington, D.C., suburb. Fairfax County officials closed down a two-mile stretch of the beltway and evacuated a mile-square area around the leak.

Two injuries were reported: to a man who was treated at Fairfax Hospital and a woman who was treated at the scene and released, police said. Both victims suffered irritated membranes, officials said.

The Fairfax County Fire Department worked with the county Emergency Operations Center and a hazardous materials team from the state police to clean up the spill before the morning rush hour.

The 20-wheel tanker truck, owned by Applied Technology, was hauling a load of industrial strength cleaning solvents from the Portsmouth, Va., naval yard to a New Jersey treatment center when the driver discovered the leak in the underside of the tanker, county fire department spokeswoman Pam Weiger said.

Hazardous materials workers in yellow protective suits tried to contain the flowing chemicals while a second truck was brought to the scene to transfer the mixture, which was believed to contain hydrazine, thiourea, ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid, ammonium hydroxide and sulfates.

Ms. Weiger said three of chemicals were ″corrosive and eat through the skin - eat through the lungs.″

Some 250 to 300 residents of the area took shelter at nearby Edison High School to wait out the clean up. Bud Good, a local Red Cross official who lives in an evacuated subdivision, described the mood there as ″festive.″

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