TANNERSVILLE — Interstate 80 has reopened after being shut down for about six hours because of a truck leaking chemicals.
According to officials with the Monroe County EMA, the truck was leaking a highly flamable mix blend ethanol solution.
Interstate 80 was closed in the Poconos for hours, with traffic at a standstill on the highway and side roads, all because of a leak from a truck.
Hazmat crews worked to determine what chemicals were spilling onto the highway but that created another mess with traffic.
Interstate 80 east reopened in the mid-afternoon and the westbound lanes reopened around 5:30 p.m. hours after a chemical spill caused the busy highway to shut down.
Hazmat crews responded to the spill Thursday morning and a police officer was sent to the hospital.
Interstate 80 was shut down in the Poconos in both directions just before noon as emergency crews set up a command center to handle a hazmat situation.
Pocono Mountain Regional police say it all began when one of their officers pulled over a white tractor trailer. Police saw it leaking fluids.
During that traffic stop the officer felt sick and was taken to the hospital, prompting the Interstate 80 shutdown, a hazmat response, and the massive backup in the Poconos for drivers.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry so even though it’s inconvenient, it’s better that we got off the highway. We’re safe,” said Deanna Hawkins of Mount Pocono.
Interstate 80 westbound was closed from the Snydersville Routes 209 & 33 split to the Scotrun exit.
Eastbound was also closed in that area but reopened mid-afternoon.
Emergency management officials decided not to have any of the areas in Tannersville evacuated while dealing with the hazmat situation, but they did tell a gas station on Route 715 to turn off the pumps while they determined what they were dealing with.
“Pocono Township came in and said that they didn’t know exactly what had spilled, what had been released, that it would be better for us to shut the gas pumps off at this time,” said gas station worker Angel Kimel.
Hazmat teams went in to inspect further what chemical exactly leaked from this truck.
Newswatch 16 could only see the command center from a distance.
A PennDOT camera showed a bird’s-eye view of crews working diligently to determine exactly what to do.
Meanwhile, trouble backed up on Route 611, the main alternate route.
“We actually just pulled up on it. We were like ‘what is going on here?’ We thought it was an accident at first. We were like, ‘that’s messy,'” said Tadaiya Cole of Tobyhanna.
Cole and Myniqua Knight drove up on the scene in Tannersville trying to go home from work. Now they’re not so sure.
“Probably won’t get there. Probably try to take the 611 route but everyone is probably going to take that way too, so it’s going to take hours,” said Knight.
An alternate route already strained by construction, took on even more traffic while the cleanup continues.
At this time officials tell us two chemicals leaked on the highway but we do not know yet what they were.
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