UPDATE: I-80 in Monroe County Reopened After Hazmat Incident

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.

Get the latest traffic information here.

17 comments

  • Susan Herczeg

    I’m hoping there is an in-depth follow up on this as I want to know who was transporting what, why a leak occurred (weren’t safeguards in place?), where the chemicals were going (dump, fracking, or where?), what the chemicals are/were used for, regulations for transporting chemicals and whether someone was being irresponsible, who is responsible and are there any charges and fines to cover all those emergency responders costs, and, why there was no directing of traffic to prevent intersections being clogged or an emergency evacuation detour plan implemented.

  • kevin schmidt sr.

    i to was stuck in traffic for over two hours on 33 when i got to bartonsville that was a nightmare a state tropper sat on the exit in his air conditioned cruiser and no one was directing traffic i did not see one cop or fire official directing traffic seemed like we were all on our own out there …it took me another 45 min. to get to the next light in bartonsville were i turned of and finally excaped the madness ….. it was utter madness with people cutting people off to even move a foot the officials of the poconoes should be ashamed of them selfs they way they handled that mess .. the opened up east bound 80 and they dont even know what was spiled or how bad it really was or safe to open

  • Rita

    Why didn’t the “officials” check the bill of lading ?
    That would have all info of what was in the trailer.
    Unreal how people can have jobs and not know what to do when there is an incident like this!
    And still have their jobs tomorrow.

    • Thomas Daniels

      Well said. The bill of lading would have been a great start being that they are kept on the drivers door and the placards should have giving them an indication of hazard class they were dealing with whether it was inhalation hazard or flammable , etc

  • Glenn

    I must say that this was one of the most disgraceful ways of handling the emergency traffic situation on I-80 West today. There a sign posted in NJ saying that there was an accident ahead and to use the alternate route. When we got to the exit (near 302) there was no evacuation plan in place and for those of us who got off at the specified “orange route” exit, we got misinformation as to how to take Rt. 33 South. All traffic was at a standstill for miles– not on I80, but on the so called alternate routes. A piece of advice: send a police escort at the head and at the end of the rerouted traffic. Then, make sure to have effective police officers in place to direct traffic. There were points all over the Poconos where no one could get past a stop sign. I was delayed for about an hour and a half just between East Stroudsburg and Bartonsville. Most of it was just idling in traffic because of lack of instructions.

  • michael l wismer

    ok what was leaking from the truck it had to have a list of materials or was this all a drill ????? someone by now shouls have a clew of what was leaking or it too hazardous to tell us

  • mark

    The cops and local fire department did nothing to help traffic flow in this area. They just sat in their cruiser with the a/c on. While 30ft away the traffic intersection was just a nightmare. Nice that the cops give tickets to trucks for sitting in their truck at 95 degrees to get a good night sleep but a cop can sit all day in the cruiser with no issues.

    • paresident

      Haven’t you heard the latest Mark? Cops, especially the state police, don’t do traffic anymore. That kind of work is beneath them.

  • wayne

    was caught up in that mess—interstate traffic flooding all the roads in stroudsburg and its all its suburbs—-trailer trucks blocking intersections wherever one looked or tried to escape from –but not a single policemen in town trying to direct this fiasco or help control it

    • Thomas Daniels

      Why would he lose his job. Its very possible that the shipper loaded a pallet incorrectly causing it to leak. Not the drivers fault

      • Mark

        Cradle-to-grave applies. Regardless of the trucking company, the generator of the Waste will be responsible for their material leaking.

  • Skye Matthews

    Nice to see them reopen the highway while saying they still don’t know what exactly was spilled

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