An Idaho truck driver faces criminal charges for allowing his truck to leak its load of sulfuric acid on a Pocatello, Idaho highway, causing extensive damage as well as a bicycling accident that seriously injured a man.
The truck driver, identified by Idaho State Police as a 59-year-old resident of Pocatello, was charged for violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSA) rules and Idaho state law for intentionally letting about 60 gallons of sulfuric acid to leak from his truck.
The incident occurred on Sept. 27 when the truck driver was hauling about 83 gallons of sulfuric acid from Soda Springs, Idaho, northwest to Pocatello on two state highways and other roads.
Authorities told the Idaho State Journal that the lawn service truck began leaking sulfuric acid in Soda Springs, about 50 miles southwest of Pocatello. The truck driver stopped at a convenience store in Lava Hot Springs, leaving behind “a very hazardous puddle of the liquid acid,” the State Journal reported.
The truck driver noticed that his truck was leaking acid on the southern outskirts of Pocatello but he continued driving, stopping at 746 McKinley Ave. in Pocatello where he tried to stop the leak, authorities said. His attempt to stop the leak caused him to suffer severe burn injuries.
The acid leak also caused parts of the road to become extremely slick. According to the State Journal, a 48-year-old man lost control of his bicycle while riding over the acid, causing him to break his hip. The man also suffered road rash from the crash and will have to go physical therapy after spending eight weeks on crutches.
Authorities also advised motorists who drove on the affected roads on or after the night of Sept. 27 to wash their vehicles with a commercial sprayer filled with soap and water. Sulfuric acid can cause severe corrosion to vehicles and can heavily damage tires, creating a risk of tire failure and crash.
Idaho State Police said that numerous local and state agencies responded to the miles-long acid spill. Cleanup and remediation efforts by hazmat crews neutralized the trail of acid with soda ash.
The truck driver faces up to one year in jail and $10,000 in fines if convicted of the misdemeanor. He may also have his hazardous material transportation permits revoked by the FMCSA.
According to the State Journal, the truck driver could also face “civil penalties from the FMCSA of no less than $78,000 and up to $182,000 if the agency determines that the hazardous material spill resulted directly in severe injury to a person or in substantial destruction of property.”