Maryland authorities investigating the Wednesday crash of a tractor trailer hauling hazardous waste from Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear reactors determined distracted driving to be the cause.
Maryland State Police said the 57-year-old driver, Daniel Bates, of Tennessee, had his attention fixed on another accident that had occurred on Interstate 81 near Maugansville, Md., just south of the Pennsylvania border. Mr. Bates has been charged in the crash, according to USA Today.
The 2001 Freightliner truck was hauling two shipping containers of used protective suits that workers at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant used during radioactive cleanup. A spokesman for Exelon Nuclear told the press that the suits were being taken to Tennessee for disposal by an independent, licensed carrier.
Capt. Sam Anderson of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. said it took responders a half hour to determine that there was no threat of leakage from the crashed truck. The suits were stowed in lead boxes that prevent radioactive particles from escaping. The boxes were intact after the crash and officials from Three Mile Island and hazmat crews found that they posed no threat to the environment or public safety.
Mr. Bates was the only person injured in the crash. He was taken to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown for treatment of minor injuries.
Maryland State Police spokesman Sgt. Marc Black told reporters that Mr. Bates made an unsafe lane change while distracted, which caused his tractor trailer to exit the highway and overturn. The crash occurred in the southbound lanes of I-81 at 5:17 pm, creating traffic jams for several miles in both Penn. and Maryland.