Hazmat crews continue cleanup of 401 site of collision, chemical spill

The secondary collision occurred about one kilometre west of the first and involved seven tractor trailers and three vehicles.

Brockville General Hospital spokesperson Abby McIntyre confirmed BGH admitted one person involved in the accident with minor injuries, with the rest of the victims sent to Kingston. Several first responders were exposed and needed to be decontaminated.

"We had five firefighters that were making attempts to rescue this driver (of one of the trucks) and they came in contact with it", said Barr.

Police said Wednesday that the primary collision occurred in the westbound lanes, just east of Highway 137 near Leeds, Ont. and involved five tractor trailers and one vehicle.

Motorists involved in the pileup described a chaotic scene Tuesday.

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The toxic substance was later identified as fluorosilicic acid, according to a statement from Kingston General Hospital.

Ministry of the Environment officials have declared the area unsafe and the highway can't be reopened until it's made safe, OPP said Wednesday.

Some people were treated at a decontamination bay after being exposed to the hazardous material, which is commonly used in water fluoridation, and can cause irritation to the nose, throat and respiratory system, swelling of the skin and severe eye irritation. A chain reaction of collisions followed.

The hospital reports that it treated 29 patients in total as a result of the accident, 13 of whom were emergency services first responders who underwent decontamination and were held for observation as a precaution.

The hospital was under a "code orange" after the crashes, meaning non-critical patients were temporarily re-routed to the nearby Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston.

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It happened at about 2:00 p.m. on Highway 401 westbound, in Leeds and the Thousands Township.

No residential properties were affected and there was no risk to the general public, she added.

Highway 401 will remain closed indefinitely in both directions between Mallorytown and Lansdowne.

Clean-up crews had arrived on site by late afternoon to remediate the area of the chemical spill.

Gananoque police posted a message on their Facebook page saying that according to the Leeds Fire Department, the hazardous material that leaked turns into hydrofluoric acid if exposed to heat.

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