RIVERDALE -- A truck with a flatbed trailer carrying 34 tons of magnesium chloride flipped over on the Interstate 84 eastbound exit near Riverdale and nearly crashed onto Interstate 15 below, snarling traffic for hours and sparking a large-scale cleanup effort.
William Via, 67, the driver-owner of the 1999 Freightliner truck, was taken by ambulance to McKay-Dee Hospital, where he was treated and released.
He has been cited for driving too fast for conditions, said Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Simmons.
Via was traveling south on I-15 around 11:15 a.m. and entered the I-84 eastbound ramp at 65 to 70 mph, Simmons said. Via applied his brakes, causing the tanks carrying the magnesium chloride to shift.
The trailer tipped on its side, slid about 125 yards, struck a concrete barrier and came to rest on a bridge over I-15. Had the trailer traveled another 50 feet, it would have flipped onto I-15, he said.
The crash caused the two magnesium chloride tanks and the vehicle's diesel fuel tank to rupture. The liquid magnesium chloride, a chemical typically applied to roads before snowstorms, and diesel fuel mixed together, flowed down an embankment and dripped into a southbound lane of I-15.
While the combination of magnesium chloride and diesel fuel does not pose a significant environmental problem, the Weber-Morgan Health Department will determine whether a 1,000-foot-long strip of contaminated soil adjacent to the southbound lane of I-15 will have to be removed.
The lane would likely have to be closed for several days to accommodate soil replacement, Simmons said.
Southbound I-15 in the vicinity of the spill was closed for about 90 minutes Saturday and traffic was diverted off the 31st Street exit. The I-84 exit where the crash occurred was closed for about five hours.
The location where the accident occurred has been the site of similar semitrailer accidents, Simmons said.
"They (truckers) come into the curve way too fast and don't realize it until it's too late. When they realize it's too late, they apply their brakes, and that causes the load to shift and their trailer to tip."
The Utah Department of Transportation recently installed solar-powered LED warning lights on the exit ramp from southbound I-15 to eastbound I-84, nicknamed "Applesauce Corner" for the number of high-profile semitrailer crashes involving produce that have occurred on the road.