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Truck spills poisonous hydrofluoric acid

SIHEUNG-- A large container of hydrofluoric acid fell off of a cargo truck and spilled onto a road in Siheung near an industrial complex southwest of Seoul, police said Saturday.

   Police said the container fell off of the truck while it was making a right turn in a residential area, causing three lanes of the road to be covered with the acid.

   It said there were no immediate injuries caused by the accident, but the toxic acid spill encompassed at least 30 square meters of road leading to the Banwol-Sihwa industrial complex.

Officers on the site along with fire fighters said some drums carrying the acid probably ruptured when they fell off the truck driven by a person only identified by his family name of Cho.

However, they said the compound had been diluted prior to transport. The 8-meter-long container had 20 drums carrying 200 liters of acid.

   "We are in the process of neutralizing the acid with chemicals, although the areas have been sealed off for obvious safety concerns," a fire department official said.

   Police are investigating to see whether or not the driver was speeding when the accident occurred.

   Hydrofluoric is a solution of hydrogen fluoride in water and is a highly corrosive acid, capable of dissolving many materials including glass.

   It is mainly used for oil refining, as an etchant and cleaning agent and in production of organofluorine compounds, among other things.

   The acid is considered a contact poison and must be handled with extreme care since it poses serious health risks.
(Yonhap News)


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