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Spill Shuts Down the 118

About 600 gallons of fertilizer leak onto Los Angeles Avenue near Moorpark after a truck tips over. The roadway is closed for hours.

June 05, 2004|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

A truck hauling about 600 gallons of liquid fertilizer tipped over Friday morning on Los Angeles Avenue west of Moorpark, closing California 118 for more than five hours.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Reid said the cause of the accident was under investigation. Much of the chemical spilled on the roadway -- near the railroad tracks between Grimes Canyon and Balcom Canyon roads -- though some reached a dirt road and adjacent field where carrots are grown, he said.

The driver, 38-year-old Hector Esquivel of Moorpark, was taken to St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo for treatment and released.

The two-axle, flatbed truck, operated by Moorpark-based Somis Pacific Ag Management, was heading west on the 118 when the accident occurred shortly before noon, causing a large portable plastic tank that held potassium thiosulfate to detach from the vehicle, Reid said.

The roadway was closed in both directions for more than four hours, at Somis Road on the west and at Tierra Rejada on the east, Reid said. Traffic was backed up into Moorpark about half a mile at one point and the site was not expected to be cleared for several more hours.

County environmental health officials said the chemical was at about 50% concentration, but people who came into contact with it may experience slight burning of the skin or eyes. It posed no health hazard to drivers or nearby residents, said a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, which also responded to the accident.

David Wadsworth, an environmental health specialist on the scene, said the spill occurred about 200 yards north of the Arroyo Simi and that cleanup crews would steam clean the roadway and vacuum any liquid that remained to reduce the likelihood of fertilizer getting into local groundwater, where it could result in an abundance of bacterial growth.

For cars that may have driven through the chemical, Wadsworth recommended placing the vehicle on grass and rinsing the tires with a water hose.

The landowner next to the accident site was out with a front-loader digging up the soil where the spill occurred, Wadsworth and Reid said. He planned to spread the fertilizer-rich soil over his property.

Somis Pacific officials could not be reached for comment.

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