Lanes on the southbound Interstate 880 in Hayward at Winton Avenue were closed for more than four hours Friday afternoon following an incident with a tanker carrying a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acid.
Brown gas and smoke were seen coming from a truck carrying 300 gallons of acid, according to Alameda Fire, and officials were investigating it as a hazardous material incident.
The truck was carrying a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acid, both colorless liquids that are used in the manufacture of compounds for fertilizers and other chemicals, when the driver noticed the truck was leaking and pulled over on the highway and proceeded to call 911 around 12:30 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol.
Update: As of 4PM, firefighters have partially neutralized the acid leak and the northbound lanes of I-880 have reopened. The Shelter-in-Place order has been lifted. @HaywardFireNews, ACFD & @FremontFire are continuing to work to neutralize the remaining product. pic.twitter.com/suR9hWW4S6 — Alameda County Fire (@AlamedaCoFire) August 24, 2018
The leak had been stopped but officials waited for the gas to dissipate before they reopened the highway lanes. The product on the ground reacted and started a small vegetation fire, Alameda Fire officials said.
Gas rising from the truck caused officials to also close the northbound lanes for around two hours, causing heavy traffic and delays in the area.
The chemicals are "extremely corrosive," said Nitash Balsara, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley.
"If it gets on the skin or into the lungs, it can cause a lot of damage to the body," said Balsara.
Shoppers at the Southland Mall nearby were ordered to shelter-in-place and told to exit out the west doors and not the east doors. The shelter-in-place order were lifted a few hours after the incident.