Summit firefighters clean up a chemical spill on Interstate 55 on February 16. (Photo courtesy of Summit Fire Department)

Summit firefighters clean up a chemical spill on Interstate 55 on February 16. (Photo courtesy of Summit Fire Department)

Chemical spill on I-55 shuts down traffic for hours

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Summit Fire Chief Anthony Anderson provides reporters with an update on the chemical spill Friday afternoon. (Supplied photo)

By Carol McGowan

Chemicals leaking from a semi-trailer truck that was stopped on the right shoulder of Interstate 55 near LaGrange Road in Summit caused the expressway to be shut down in both directions for most of the day last Friday, and caused traffic headaches in the surrounding area.

All lanes were closed from just after 8 a.m. on the outbound Stevenson at LaGrange Road because of the chemical spill.

The northbound (inbound) lanes were re-opened just after 4 p.m.

Two outbound lanes were re-opened before 5 p.m., and all lanes re-opened by 6 p.m.

The Illinois Department of Transportation confirmed chemicals leaked from a truck that was stopped on the right shoulder.

Summit Fire Chief Anthony Anderson said his department responded to the scene after the driver of the truck reported that fluids were leaking out of a container.

A Level 1 hazardous materials response was called, and a Level 2 response followed shortly after as more equipment and manpower was needed.

Along with the Summit Fire Department, several other departments were called to the scene and remained there most of the day.

Anderson said the truck had organic peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, phosphoric acid, and sodium hydroxide on board.

The truck had to swerve after it was cut off by a car, and the drums inside shifted, causing a puncture in three of the 55-gallon drums of organic peroxide, which leaked and caused a plume.  Anderson added that hydrogen peroxide also spilled. Responders were concerned of a possible fire.

There was also concern that the chemicals could leak down onto Santa Fe Drive in Hodgkins.  Because of that, Santa Fe Drive was shut down between 71st and 67th streets as a precaution.

Hazmat suits were put on before the responders got close to the truck. They then emptied the leaking drums into larger drums to contain the chemical.

During the clean-up process, traffic was tied-up through the Village of Summit, as traffic was detoured off of southbound I-55 at First Avenue.

Northbound I-55 traffic was detoured off at LaGrange Road.

In turn, LaGrange Road and Archer were bumper to bumper throughout the day and afternoon-evening rush.

Commuters in the mid- to late-afternoon were tied up on northbound Archer Road.

One Summit commuter said it took her 40 minutes to get from the Justice Police station on Archer to Summit.

“It’s a mess out there,” another said on social media.

Commuters also had a rough go getting around Countryside and Hodgkins.

Rodney Cummings, Administrative Assistant at the Hodgkins Police Department, said traffic was horrible.

“It was a mess on 294, LaGrange Road, and Joliet Road. Everything in the area that could lead into I-55 was backed up.”

No injuries were reported.

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