Freeway's westbound lanes re-open after hazmat spill

By Chris Collins July 02, 2013 07:29 am


By Chris Collins

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The westbound lanes of Interstate 84 were closed for about seven hours Tuesday between Baker City and North Powder when a hazardous liquid was spilled at the Baker Valley Rest Area.

Oregon State Police and first responders from Haines, Baker Rural and Baker City fire departments were called to the scene.

The incident began about 5 a.m. Tuesday when a pickup truck carrying two barrels pulled off at the rest area, Lt. Gregg Hastings, OSP spokesman, said in a press release.

Hastings said one of the barrels, which was carrying “a hazardous flammable toxic liquid (2-Methyl-2-heptanethiol),” tipped over and spilled.

The westbound lanes re-opened at about 1 p.m. The rest area remained closed.


A Baker City ambulance crew was called to the scene, said Sara Blair, a firefighter and paramedic.  


The pickup driver, Kealii Gellert, 34, of Boise, sustained cuts to his hands in trying to move the barrel, Blair said. Gellert refused transport to the hospital, but was not injured by the chemical, Blair said.

Hastings said Gellert remained at the scene to help with the cleanup effort.

Fire Chief Jerry Hampton of the Haines Fire Department was the incident commander, Blair said. Hampton and Haines volunteers remained at the site awaiting the arrival of a hazardous material crew. Haines and Baker Rural volunteers initially used an absorbent to soak up the liquid. Most of the contents of the 55-gallon barrel had spilled, Blair said.

The pickup truck was traveling from Boise to Hermiston, Blair said. Gellert told fire officials that the chemical is combined with another compound to form an insulating foam that is used to seal structures.

Westbound traffic was rerouted through Haines, via Highway 30, during the closure.

More information about the hazardous material is available at