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Tanker full of sodium hydroxide crashes in Pittsylvania County

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PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY (WSLS 10) - At about 8 a.m. Tuesday, a tanker truck carrying 3,700 gallons of sodium hydroxide en route to the Nestlé plant in Danville crashed in front of the Open Bible Baptist Church just north of the Pittsylvania County Ag Complex.

"We received a call for a tractor-trailer that had overturned; that it was a tanker with an unknown substance," said Chatham Assistant Fire Chief Jacob Coles.

The two people in the tanker were taken to Lynchburg for treatment, but late Tuesday afternoon it was unknown if they were still there or what their condition was.

"They were trapped and pinned in. It was a lengthy extrication," Coles explained.

After speaking with employees at the Nestlé plant, emergency officials determined that the sodium hydroxide was to be used to clean off stainless steel appliances.

It's unknown how much of it may have leaked out of the tanker, but emergency officials said there would likely still be a lot of it left in the tanker for the cleanup crew to pump out.

"We've had a team come in and slow down the leak to just about a few drops," Coles said.

Luckily, there are no creeks or streams nearby that could potentially be contaminated by this spill.

What did leak has been absorbed by the ground, but it's unclear what potential issues that could create.

Sodium hydroxide is a skin irritant, so those helping with the cleanup had to be very careful.

"They're actually using a shield, a face shield, so it doesn't come in contact," said Coles.

The soil around the crash site was also turned over Tuesday to try to remove some of the sodium hydroxide that spilled.

As for the crash itself, it remained under investigation Tuesday evening by state police.


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