Interstate Highway 94, best known simply as I-94, runs through seven states. From Montana to Michigan, I-94 is one of the busiest highways in America.
Almost all the top freight-transport companies in the world employ this highway with its trucks.
On Sunday, March 21, at 12:10 a.m., the driver of a truck, owned by one of the busiest of all international freight-transport companies, called his direct supervisor with an emergency issue. The truck driver was in Hazel Crest, Illinois, on the southbound side of I-94 — and industrial glue was leaking out of his 53-foot trailer.
Within 10 minutes, Chris Johnson, Co-Owner of HazChem received a phone call.
“The driver’s best guess was that around 50 gallons of glue had spilled on his trailer,” Johnson said. “He couldn’t take a chance continuing on for many reasons, one being you can’t leak glue all over the highway. And he couldn’t send us a whole bunch of photos either because this driver should not be standing on the side of a highway, with vehicles going 70 and 80 miles-per-highway, clicking photos. He stayed in his truck and waited for our crew to arrive.”
HazChem mobilized to the site with its crew, and a forklift and pallet jack to move freight on the affected trailer.
“Once our crew arrived, they saw that some glue had stuck to the back of the truck,” Johnson said. “That, by itself, was not problematic — we knew we’d easily be able to clean that at some point. A very small amount had spilled onto the side of the highway, and that wasn’t a major problem either. Our crew immediately worked in some oil dry for absorption and cleaning purposes, and that was all handled very fast.
“But there were two major challenges. First, almost the entire trailer had glue on its floor — and the trailer was fully packed with freight. Secondly, there was zero room on the side of the highway for us to safely forklift freight at that spot.”
So the crew put the necessary amount of oil dry at the back of the trailer to prevent further leaking.
The freight-transport company had a terminal less than 25 minutes away.
“Our crew followed that freight-truck back to the terminal,” said Johnson, “and that was the best possible place for the rest of the cleanup to occur.”
Once there, the HazChem crew immediately removed from the trailer a 50-gallon fiber drum which had been full of glue. All 50 gallons had leaked out, and the glue had spread throughout the entire trailer.
The crew immediately laid out poly sheeting on the dock floor. The plan was to forklift off all the freight and onto the poly sheeting. Since most pallets would have glue at their bottom, each pallet was to be cleaned with Universal Pads as they came off the trailer.
Cleaning the trailer itself posed some challenges. Inhalation of industrial glue, according to Healthline Media (healthline.com), can cause “possible brain damage, severe breathing problems, seizures, kidney damage, heart failure and long-term harm to brain function causing neurological problems.”
So Air Purifying Respirators were worn by crew members working inside the trailer.
“Our crew did an excellent job,” said Alan Shapiro, HazChem’s co-owner. “The entire trailer was packed with freight. Some of the freight was extremely heavy, and was in awkward positions.”
The crew worked oil dry into the trailer as the freight was moved out.
By the time the crew was finished, only 140 minutes had elapsed.
“The Supervisor at this terminal had told us they wanted to put that trailer back on the highway as fast as possible,” Shapiro said. “Of course they wanted us to work safe, but they did want us to keep moving quickly.
“The photos tell the whole story. Our crew had clearly done a sensational job — there wasn’t a drop of glue left on that trailer.”