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March 18, 2014

Ammonium nitrate spills in Louden

Tractor-trailer overturns in yard, leaks contents

CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer

A Louden woman woke up around 9 a.m. Monday to find her front yard covered with what she thought was snow, only to learn a tractor-trailer overturned in her yard and spilled its contents — white ammonium nitrate.

Hassell Ray, 48, of Pine Knot, was driving his tractor-trailer along HWY 1064 when the pavement gave way beneath the vehicle, causing it to overturn into the front yard of David and Louella Reeves, according to Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Mark Scott. Ray was unharmed, but his load of ammonium nitrate had spilled.

According to Scott, the chemical is harmless to the residents of the area and most commonly used in agriculture as a fertilizer, although it is also mixed with other chemicals to create explosives.

Louella Reeves said a loud noise woke her up, and she thought it was the neighbors at first. However, when she looked out her window she saw piles of white.

“I thought it was snow until I saw the truck,” she said. “I asked [Ray] how long that truck had been there and he said about 30 minutes.”

Reeves said some lawn ornaments passed down to her from in-laws as well as her fence were the only casualties of the crash.

“It scared me to death,” she said.

Assisting at the scene were Whitley County Emergency Management, the Environmental Response Team, Patterson Creek Fire Department, and ECO Tech, a company that cleaned up the chemical spill.

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