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    Tanker overturns in Hernando County

    For almost three hours, a U.S. 41 crossing was closed. The driver was slightly injured.

    By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 8, 2002

    SPRING HILL -- Hernando County firefighters closed U.S. 41 and County Line Road for almost three hours Saturday and evacuated a few homes and a gas station after a truck carrying 3,000 gallons of liquid chlorine overturned outside the station.

    Officials also asked residents to turn off their air conditioners for about two hours. That request was rescinded at 4:30 p.m.

    The tanker developed a small leak in its dome in the single-vehicle wreck, and firefighters were concerned that the chlorine might spread because of light winds, operations chief Danny Roberts said. In its gaseous state, chlorine can cause breathing problems and could be fatal.

    Pasco County's hazardous materials response team also responded to the accident.

    After securing the scene, emergency personnel determined that no real threat existed and the truck was not badly damaged. But they waited until wreckers could remove the tanker before opening the roads. In the meantime, traffic was diverted onto other streets.

    Nelson Priede, owner of Cafe Masaryktown just north of the intersection, said the accident was the talk of his early dinner crowd. The detours caused some of his help to be late for work, Priede said, and cars headed south were backed up in front of the restaurant.

    Northbound traffic, by contrast, was nonexistent as a result of the detours.

    "It's disrupting our business," Priede said at 5 p.m. "We're not getting (much) traffic in here."

    Officials said they opened U.S. 41 at about 5:30 p.m., and County Line Road shortly after.

    The tanker driver, slightly injured, did not require hospital treatment, Roberts said.

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