ALOR STAR: Traffic flow along the North-South Expressway near Pendang was reduced to a snail's crawl after more than 1,000kg of hydrogen peroxide spilled onto the south-bound carriageway early yesterday.
Four barrels of the weak acid, commonly used as a bleaching agent, fell off a lorry at 3am and ruptured.
One lane of the carriageway had to be closed as firemen and expressway workers cleaned up the spill.
The driver of the lorry, whose identity is unknown, told police he realised some barrels, each containing about 240kg of the acid, were rolling off the lorry when he checked the rear-view mirror.
He stopped the lorry and found 20 of the 96 barrels he was transporting from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Kulim strewn on one side of the road and on the road shoulder.
There were no other vehicles on the road at the time.
Knowing that acid and its vapour could cause burns on contact with the skin or eyes, the driver and his co-driver, both in their 20s, moved away from the scene.
They then contacted their supervisor who, in turn, alerted the Fire and Rescue Department here.
Forty firemen in three engines, including one from the Hazardous Material Response Unit in Prai, Penang went to the scene.
Unit commander Mohd Isyam Ishak said with the help of the police, they cordoned off one side of the carriageway. Firemen then covered the acid with sand for several hours before flushing it with water.
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