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Truck carrying RADIOACTIVE uranium hexafluoride crashes into a van on I-95 in North Carolina 

Truck carrying RADIOACTIVE uranium hexafluoride crashes into a van on I-95 in North Carolina 

A truck carrying a radioactive uranium compound was involved in a car accident in North Carolina which prompted several hours of delays and temporary evacuations as HAZMAT crews responded to the scene. 

The truck carrying uranium hexafluoride, a chemical that can be used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, had collided with a passenger van around 11.30am, officials with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.

Highway Patrol Sgt. K.L. McVicker told DailyMail.com that the driver of the van and the driver of the truck both received traffic citations.

‘The 18-wheeler was carrying uranium hexafluoride and he was making a lane change and did not realize a van was in his blind spot and his load of radioactive material fell of the trailer,’ she said.

‘The van had to be towed from the scene, they couldn’t drive away and the truck was drivable because all it did was shift his load off it, there was no damage to the truck.’

The truck driver was cited for making the improper lane change and the driver of the van was cited for driving without a driver’s license, Sgt. McVicker said. 

Highway Patrol initially evacuated drivers away from the scene as a precaution but later allowed them to return to their cars

Highway Patrol initially evacuated drivers away from the scene as a precaution but later allowed them to return to their cars

Two of the four 1,000-gallon containers of uranium hexafluoride on the truck had fallen from it during the crash

Two of the four 1,000-gallon containers of uranium hexafluoride on the truck had fallen from it during the crash

The truck had had collided with a passenger van around 11.30am and traffic was delayed until lanes reopened at 4.30

The truck had had collided with a passenger van around 11.30am and traffic was delayed until lanes reopened at 4.30

A truck carrying a radioactive uranium compound was involved in a car accident in North Carolina

A truck carrying a radioactive uranium compound was involved in a car accident in North Carolina

Highway Patrol Sgt. K.L. McVicker said that the driver of the van and the driver of the truck both received traffic citations

Highway Patrol Sgt. K.L. McVicker said that the driver of the van and the driver of the truck both received traffic citations

Highway Patrol officials said the backup caused by that wreck created a secondary accident that left the driver with 'very serious injuries'

Highway Patrol officials said the backup caused by that wreck created a secondary accident that left the driver with ‘very serious injuries’

Nobody was hurt in the crash and the highway reopened just before 4.30pm.

However, Sgt. McVicker told DailyMail.com that the backup caused by that wreck created a secondary accident that left the driver with ‘very serious injuries.’ 

The initial crash involving the tractor trailer happened near Exit 58 where the interstate meets I-295, WNCN reported. 

Sgt. McVicker said that the secondary collision happened near mile marker 67 when a passenger car slammed into the back of a box truck stopped in traffic.

‘The driver of that passenger car was life-flighted to a locorregional hospital. I would consider that a secondary collision as a result of the traffic being blocked up,’ she said.

Photos from the first scene showed miles of frustrated drivers with their cars parked along the highway.

Highway Patrol initially evacuated drivers away from the scene as a precaution but later allowed them to return to their cars when HAZMAT crews determined there was not a threat, WTVD reported. 

Gene Booth, Cumberland County’s emergency management director, told WRAL that two of the four 1,000-gallon containers of uranium hexafluoride on the truck had fallen from it during the crash.

None of the material appeared to leak from its containers, authorities said.

Crews spent more than three hours just getting those two containers back onto the trailer, the outlet reported.

One of the containers was dented and seen with black skid marks after the incident, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

Sgt. McVicker told DailyMail.com that the reason it took so long was because HAZMAT crews had to ‘continuously check readings while loading them onto the truck to make sure there were no leaks in those containers.’

The truck was operated by Hittman Transport Services, according to WRAL.

The company is a ‘premier transporter of low-level radioactive waste in the country,’ according to its website, and is based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The company confirmed to DailyMail.com that one of its tractor trailers was involved in the accident and referred comment to Orano.

Photos from the first scene showed miles of frustrated drivers with their cars parked along the highway

Photos from the first scene showed miles of frustrated drivers with their cars parked along the highway

Orano, the company Hittman was believed to be transporting the chemical for, is a French company that specializes in nuclear power, including mining, storing and recycling nuclear materials and dismantling nuclear facilities.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Orano for more information and additional comment.

WRAL noted that Hittman has a good safety record with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The company has only been cited five times for hazardous materials issues since March 2019 with only one of those involving the failure to comply with regulations, DOT records show

Of the other four citations, the company was cited twice for improper placards and twice for a package not being labelled properly and paperwork issues.

Uranium hexafluoride is a ‘highly corrosive chemical’ that ’emits radioactive particles which can be breathed in, swallowed or can penetrate the skin.’

The chemical, which is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process, must be handled in leak-proof containers.

However, its radiation only causes a minimal risk to transportation and emergency responders, as well as the public, during transportation accidents, according to The Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders, WTVD noted.

High exposure to it can cause nausea, vomiting, restlessness, nervousness and convulsions, according to a fact sheet from the New Chaleco Health Department.

In 2011, one company that handles the chemical pleaded guilty in federal court to the felony offense of knowingly storing hazardous waste without a permit in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Honeywell International Inc. was sentenced to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $11.8 million, according to a press release from the Justice Department at the time.

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