Officials: Acid spill closes Highway 101 overpass in Novato

MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — Novato Fire Protection District crews were at the scene of a hazardous materials incident on U.S. Highway 101 Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

The fire district wrote on Twitter at 7:46 a.m. about the incident taking place in the area of northbound Highway 101 near Atherton Avenue in Novato.

The Atherton/San Marin Overpass is closed for at least several hours.

The incident involves some sort of substance spilled on the roadway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The spill was either one of two chemicals, sulfuric acid or muriatic acid, according to Sandy Wargo of Novato Fire District. The chemicals can be deadly to breathe or touch, Wargo said.

The hazardous was muriatic acid commonly used as a pool cleaner, the Novato Fire Protection District said Tuesday afternoon.

The haz-mat team neutralized the chemical from four one-gallon plastic containers with sodium bicarbonate to lower the ph level to the same level as water.

Traffic was diverted away from the spill and all roads in the area were open by 10:45 a.m., the fire protection district said.

No one was in danger, as the overpass is far enough away from residents in that area.

When undiluted, muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, can lead to skin tissue burns and irritation, and inhaling the fumes can cause respiratory issues, according to the Novato Fire Protection District.

The spill caused the asphalt to bubble and release what appeared to be smoke, the California Highway Patrol said. The CHP closed Atherton Avenue between Redwood Boulevard and Armstrong Avenue.

Residents had been alerted to avoid the overpass.

Traffic on both sides of Highway 101 was not affected by the spill, the CHP said.

Investigators believe the four gallons of acid were not properly secured in a vehicle and slid off when the vehicle made a left turn onto the on-ramp of northbound U.S. Highway 101, the CHP said.

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