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Highway Patrol Wrapping Up Turnpike Tanker Crash Report

Vern Fisher, lieutenant in charge of the Swanton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said troopers are wrapping up the details on their report of the Thursday, June 23 crash on the Ohio Turnpike involving a tanker truck loaded with liquid hydrogen.

The tanker was stopped in traffic and was struck from behind by a second semi driven by Larry D. Maxwell, 50, Springfield, at about 8:49 pm, near the 32-mile marker.

Maxwell was killed.

The crash destroyed the piping and control valves at the back of the tanker, resulting in a leak of hydrogen gas which then caught fire.

In consultation with experts, firefighters decided to allow the contents to burn off while spraying the tank with water to keep it cool.

Water tanker trucks from 15 area fire departments transported more than 455,000 gallons of water over 17 hours, which was pumped to remote nozzles that sprayed the tanker.

The accident shut down both sides of the turnpike, and caused traffic problems on state highways for more than 24 hours.

Fisher said OSHP is not conducting any type of special investigation into the crash.

Andy Brodbeck, Archbold fire chief, said fire chiefs from the Archbold, Wauseon, and Delta fire departments will meet to discuss the crash and their response.

The date for the meeting has not been set.

A meeting between the fire chiefs and officials from the Ohio Turnpike & Infrastructure Commission is set for Friday, July 8, to discuss the OTIC response.

Dan Furth, president of National Tank Truck Carriers, an industry association, said there are no specific figures on liquid hydrogen transportation.

To transport hydrogen, Furth said it must be cooled to 420 degrees below zero to turn the hydrogen gas into a liquid.

In 2015, trucks carried about 76 million tons of cryogenically cooled materials such as carbon dioxide, liquid oxygen, and hydrogen, on the nation’s highways, just eight-tenths of one percent (.8%) of the total truck tonnage hauled in the nation.

Trucks carrying cryogenics generated $1.73 billion in revenue for their owners. There are roughly 8,200 cryogenic tanker trucks in the U.S. fleet.

Furth said the trailers designed to haul cryogenic material cost about $300,000. With another $150,000 for the semi-tractor, “you’re talking about real money,” he said.

Because of the large in- vestment, Furth said cryogenic tanker trucks are usually trusted to the most experienced, best-compensated drivers who have special training on how to deal with their loads.

Cryogenic tankers are involved in relatively few crashes, partly because there are relatively few of them, and partly because they are assigned to the best drivers.

When they are in crashes, cryogenic tank trailers “are built to withstand a great deal,” he said.

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