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Leaking Big Rig Closes Freeway

Traffic is diverted for hours after hydrogen peroxide spills onto the 710 in South Gate.

November 23, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A big rig leaking industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide shut down the Long Beach Freeway on Friday, backing up traffic in both directions for miles and sending a California Highway Patrol officer to the hospital for treatment, authorities said.

The 40-foot Pacifica Chemicals Inc. truck was flagged down near Firestone Boulevard in South Gate at 11:30 a.m. by northbound motorists who noticed white smoke rising from its liquid-cargo tank, said Inspector Edward Osorio of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"The CHP officer who initially rolled up to the scene complained of feeling nauseous," Osorio said.

"He was taken to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition."

The cleanup was slowed because hazardous materials teams were unable to identify the liquid -- used as a bleaching agent -- for about an hour, authorities said.

Fearing a potential disaster, authorities diverted northbound traffic to the Century Freeway and southbound traffic to the Pomona Freeway.

Southbound lanes were reopened at 1:30 p.m. Three northbound lanes were reopened about 3:20 p.m.

The cleanup operation triggered massive disruptions on surrounding streets.

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