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Hazardous chemicals leaving DeKalb County

Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine said police were escorting a container with the hazardous materials that ended up parked at an impound lot in South Fort Payne as it was transported out of DeKalb County late Friday afternoon.

By Steven Stiefel | Times-Journal

DEKALB COUNTY- Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine said the hazardous materials that ended up parked at an impound lot in South Fort Payne were loaded onto a truck set to transport them out of DeKalb County.

An incident on Friday was connected to a Thursday morning wreck of an 18-wheeler that overturned in Rainsville, causing a chemical spill near the crossroads of Alabama Highways 75 and 35.

The substance, organic peroxide, was reportedly loaded onto a separate container and brought by Twenty-four Seven Towing and Recovery to Fort Payne, where it was parked near the South Y.

Organic peroxide is a type of oxidizer that can cause several health issues, including trouble breathing and chest pains.

Fort Payne Police and Fire responded to a call Friday morning about possible risk and monitored the container while awaiting a hazmat team to assess the situation. They had to research how to safely remove the container from the impound lot and how/where to send it next.

Police closed off multiple streets in the vicinity, including Chitwood Avenue, Lowe Street SE, 12th Street, and 13th Street, and cleared everyone within a 150-foot radius.

“It never got to the point of presenting such a risk that we felt like we’d need to evacuate,” Baine said.

By 5 p.m. Friday, 12th Street was the only one remaining closed.

Throughout the day, multiple police cars and even a street department backhoe blocked the side streets, restricting access. A container storing the chemical was gradually vented to relieve any buildup of pressure. A mobile command center was set up at the Alabama Fan Club nearby. There was no fire to extinguish and no injuries to report.

Baine said the police department was preparing late Friday to escort the vehicle carrying the organic peroxide out of DeKalb County.

“We need to make sure it doesn’t just get parked somewhere. Once that’s out of here, the threat will be gone,” he said. “There will just be some clean-up needing to be done.”

Baine said the organic peroxide is heading to Chattanooga, where it originated.

When contacted at 4 p.m. Friday, Baine hadn’t gotten anyone to explain yet why such hazardous cargo was transported out of Rainsville and left parked in Fort Payne.

Municipal authorities said they received no notification about the risk prior to the emergency call, although they were aware of the wreck and containment efforts in Rainsville the day before. The cleanup there lasted into the afternoon on Friday.

Students at Plainview and Cornerstone Christian Academy were dismissed early on Thursday after learning of the incident there and some homes and businesses were evacuated.

Baine said he’d heard multiple people express relief that the Rainsville traffic accident hadn’t happened at the notoriously dangerous sharp turn at the base of Lookout Mountain called Joe’s Truck Stop.

“That’s a legitimate concern,” he said.

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