6 Mile Stretch of I-90 Still Closed After Hazardous Material Spi - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

6 Mile Stretch of I-90 Still Closed After Hazardous Material Spill Sunday Near WA-ID Border

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6 mile stretch of I-90 closed near WA-ID border 6 mile stretch of I-90 closed near WA-ID border

UPDATE:  A 6-mile stretch of I-90 is back open after a 19 hour shutdown due to an extremely toxic and flammable chemical spill of a substance called anhydrous trimethylamine. The spill happened at milepost 299 on I-90 near the Starr Road exit on Sunday afternoon just after 1:00pm. The highway was closed from the Liberty Lake exit in Washington to the Pleasant View Rd exit in N. Idaho.


During the closure, traffic was detoured to SR 290/SR 53 and to Wellesley/Seltice Way.

Hazmat crews on scene had to use extreme caution because the substance, which is used to make plastic tractor hoods, is so dangerous. Hazmat crews had to go into the spill zone seven times before they could successfully contain the substance and have confidence the area and air were safe. Only about a gallon of the anhydrous trimethylamine leaked but even that relatively small amount can be extremely dangerous, especially because it is so flammable.

The driver of the truck also had a dog with him when the spill happened and that dog remained trapped in the cab almost until the scene was cleared. According to authorities, Hazmat crews tried to get the dog out of the cab once they deemed the scene safe, but the dog was too frightened to come out of the truck willingly. They were able to test the air inside the truck to know that the air in the cab was safe for the dog.


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NEAR WASHINGTON-IDAHO BORDER -  A 6-mile stretch of I-90 is expected to remain closed throughout the morning and possibly into the afternoon due to an extremely toxic and flammable chemical spill of a substance called anhydrous trimethylamine. The spill happened at milepost 299 on I-90 near the Starr Road exit. The highway is closed from the Liberty Lake exit in Washington to the Pleasant View Rd exit in N. Idaho. 


Traffic is being rerouted. Here are the detours in place:


  • If driving in Washington, use SR 290 (Trent) or Wellesley. However, in Idaho those roads change names,
  • If driving in Idaho, SR 290 (Trent) becomes SR 53 and Wellesley becomes Seltice Way.
  • Appleway is not open.
While detours are in place, Al Gilson, the PIO for the Washington Department of Transportation is asking that people avoid driving in the area unless they absolutely have to. Gilson said to expect extreme delays, heavy congestion and stop-and-go traffic. While there are detours in place, Trent and Wellesley are not designed to handle the amount of traffic being diverted from I-90.

Hazmat crews have been on scene using extreme caution since this spill happened just after 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon. Hazmat crews have gone into the spill zone seven times and have had to back out. They believe only about a gallon of the anhydrous trimethylamine leaked and that they have it capped.

Winds will most likely help break up and diffuse the fumes, but after two officers in the area became sick, authorities are not wanting to take any chances. As a precautionary measure, people within a half-mile radius of the spill are asked to use extreme caution outside, stay inside if possible, keep windows closed and turn off their air conditioners as there is a slight chance winds could carry the fumes through the air.

KHQ has also learned that the driver of the truck had a dog with him who has been trapped in the cab of the truck since the spill happened. The area has just been tested and authorities are making sure the air is safe to get the dog out of the cab.


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SPOKANE, Wash. – A hazardous material leak on I-90 delayed thousands of drivers for hours Sunday. The Spokane Valley Fire Department said on twitter the closure at the Washington-Idaho border will continue "into the night."

The closure started 1:30 p.m. after responding firefighters noticed the leak of Anhydrous Trimethylamine, a toxic and extremely flammable chemical.

“It has a very high vapor pressure which means it evaporates and turns into a gas and has toxic effects,” said Spokane Valley Deputy Fire Chief Andy Hail. Hail said Trimethylamine can cause respiratory difficulties, including respiratory arrest. Luckily, less than a gallon of the toxic chemical leaked. Trimethylamine is colorless, and can smell "fishy" or like ammonia at high concentrations. For more details on the chemical, click here.

Authorities are detouring eastbound drivers in Liberty Lake, and westbound drivers in Post Falls. Motorists can use both State Route 290 and East Appleway Avenue to cross the state line. Hail said motorists are making cleanup even more of a challenge.

“We had people that were consciously getting around our vehicles trying to gain access through an area that we were trying to block off,” he said. No buildings were evacuated, and no injuries were reported.

Hail told us if the leak had been much larger, evaporating gasses would be carried with the wind, threatening neighborhoods. Because the amount leak was so small, the National Weather Service says even strong winds would only dilute the minuscule minuscule gas.
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