A tractor-trailer loaded with asbestos crashed on U.S. 52 late Friday morning, resulting in slow traffic and a clean-up that’s expected to take hazardous materials crews several hours to complete.
The truck, traveling from the entrance ramp from N.C 89 onto North U.S. 52, was on its way from Charlotte to a northern refuse facility that accepts hazardous materials when it overturned.
John Shelton, Surry County emergency services coordinator, said it appeared the load simply shifted, causing the trailer to overturn, which in turn flipped the cab.
“Witnesses said he was not traveling any sort of significant speed, or in any way that would have caused this.”
As of 12:45 p.m., about an hour-and-a-half after the initial wreck, Shelton said it appeared the asbestos, which is listed as a hazardous material, had not spilled. A final determination on that could not be made until the trailer was turned upright.
The material, which is in a granular form that can become a powder, is packed in boxes of sand, then wrapped with an outside liner before being secured to pallets and then loaded on the truck. Shelton said it appeared all the proper packaging procedures had been followed.
He said wrecker crews who are “very well versed” in handling such loads were on the scene preparing to turn the trailer upright.
“We’re hoping we can keep the containers sealed and intact,” Shelton said of the effort.
Afterward, he said the containers would be transported to the Surry County landfill, which is equipped to properly handle packed asbestos.
Shelton did not release the name of the driver of the truck. He did say the driver received minor injuries, but refused treatment. No other vehicles or people were involved in the wreck.
In addition to Surry County Emergency Services and its hazardous materials team, Mount Airy Fire Department, Mount Airy Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Mount Airy Police Department were on the scene.
Although the wreck and subsequent clean-up efforts resulted in one lane of 52 North being closed, Shelton said traffic was moving steadily. While slowed, he said the wreck did not result in any significant traffic back-up.
More details will be reported as they become available.