The red roofs of El Tejon School are seen across the playing fields beside the I-5 where a truck spilled potentially explosive chemicals Friday, June 13. Beow, at about 12:30 p.m., after determining the chemical spill danger has passed, CHP opens the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, just south of El Tejon School.[Meyer Photos]
LEBEC—A CalTrans worker standing in the middle of Interstate 5 gestured to a row of red rooftops Friday, June 13 at about 12:30 p.m. He was only 300 yards away from the classrooms of El Tejon School, talking with a crew of Kern County Firefighters. They were dressed in gear for cleaning up hazardous material spills. The southbound lanes of the Grapevine had been closed to traffic for five hours, since 7:30 a.m.
The group had just confirmed that the ethylene-oxide and ethyl-methyl ketone being carried by a big rig leaking fluids had not mixed with a Kerimid resin solution also on board to create the explosive cocktail they’d feared.
The CalTrans worker was overheard to say, “You know, the other thing I’m thankful about…(pointing to the school)… that’s closed today.”
If summer vacation had not just started, the students would have had to be evacuated.
As the Tejon Industrial Complex inland port at the base of the Grapevine grows and the volume of goods transported along I-5 accelerates, ‘Friday the 13th’ was a reminder of the dangers posed by the proximity of the lovely old school to one of the state’s busiest freeways.
Reported by Gary Meyer,
Written by Patric Hedlund
This is part of the June 20, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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