Niagara County warns public to stay out of the area, as chemical leak being contained

Oct 24, 2017

The Niagara Falls Airport is closed and variety of emergency agencies remain on scene in Niagara Falls Tuesday, where a tanker leaking refrigerated hydrogen is a flammable, explosive hazard to the area.

Niagara County Director of Emergency Services Jonathan Schultz advised the public to stay out of the area Tuesday morning, as crews "are taking our time" to preserve safety. At about 11:35 a.m., Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour said a Shelter in Place advisory became effective and will last for a few hours.

Voutour said officers will be going door-to-door and issuing alerts by telephone to those affected - about a 1,500-foot radius of the scene, affecting Military Road, Richmond Avenue, Jane Drive, Carol Court, Tuscarora from Effie to Homestead and Homestead Avenue. He said a few homes in the immediate area also will be evacuated.

Schultz said the event began about 10 p.m. Monday, when a tanker driver tried to turn around in the Wegmans parking lot on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls, but misjudged the turn and collided with a light standard. The tanker remains there Tuesday because its full load of refrigerated hydrogen is leaking and "we don't have the leak totally contained yet."

Credit Niagara County Sheriff's Office

Schultz said hundreds of first responders have been working through the night, trying various techniques on the precariously positioned tanker, but will need at least another 12-24 hours. He said after containment will come the long process of pressurizing the tanker to further ensure safety.

"The biggest hazard is flammability, it's explosive," said Schultz about the refrigerated hydrogen.

He said Niagara Falls Boulevard from 3rd Avenue to Military Road will remain closed during the hazmat effort. The Wegmans and the Fashion Outlets are also closed for the day.

Voutour said the collision is still being investigated and no charges have been lodged against the driver at this time. Schultz said, as of about noon Tuesday, they were still working on identifying the owner of the tanker.