Traffic was held up for between 30 and 45 minutes Wednesday afternoon at Highway 46 and 421 near downtown due to a single-single vehicle accident involving a truck on eastbound on 46.
The accident resulted in no injuries and minimal property damage, but nonetheless raised alarms, as it involved a pick-up truck hauling two tankfuls of anhydrous ammonia, a highly volatile and toxic chemical used as a crop fertilizer.
Greensburg Police Chief Stacey Chasteen told the Daily News on scene that August Kunkle, 21, was hauling the two tanks of anhydrous ammonia eastbound on Highway 46 in a Chevy pick-up truck.
According to Chasteen, Kunkle stated that, as he approached the traffic light at Highway 46 and Highway 421, the signal turned yellow. A second car, headed westbound on 46, turned against the yellow light, blocking Kunkle’s vehicle.
Kunkle reportedly told the police chief he didn’t have time to stop. In order to avoid a collision, he veered hard left, swinging his vehicle around and overturning the tanks of anhydrous ammonia. Kunkle’s truck ended up facing the westbound direction on Highway 46.
Greensburg Fire Chief Scott Chasteen said that neither of the anhydrous ammonia tanks was punctured in the accident, resulting in no leakage.
“There were a couple of smaller tanks that were busted,” Chasteen explained. “Those were attached to the anhydrous tanks and contained water as a preventative measure in case of an accident. That’s what you see leaking onto the street.”
Scott Chasteen expressed confidence that, even if one of the tanks had leaked, the GFD would’ve been able to effectively contain it.
“With today’s wind patterns,” he said, “the anhydrous would’ve dissipated pretty quickly. We might’ve had to evacuate some folks, but it still wouldn’t have been anything we couldn't have contained.”
The fire chief noted, too, that anhydrous ammonia is stored in the tanks at extremely low temperatures. As such, when it hits outside air, it forms a white cloud, making it very easy to spot, making effective containment quicker and more likely.
In addition to the Greensburg Police and Fire Departments, the Decatur County EMS also responded to the scene of Wednesday afternoon’s accident.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011