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Daily News Archive
From December 13, 2000

Truck Carrying Chlorpyrifos Crashes on Combahee River Bridge

On November 9, 2000, an accident involving a tractor-trailer carrying the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, two cars and a dump truck occurred on the Combahee River Bridge on the Beaufort-Colleton county line in South Carolina, sending victims to the hospital. Beaufort County Emergency Management Director called the accident a high hazard to wildlife and the environment.

The Beaufort Gazette reported that the wreck occurred on the bridge, but the tractor-trailer slid across the bridge, off the road and into the woods and caught fire. The truck was carrying 65 55-gallon drums of chlorpyrifos. Only fourteen barrels of chlorpyrifos remained on the truck after the truck came to a halt. The Beaufort Gazette reported that the pesticide manufacturer was contacted and told workers to let the pesticide containing barrels burn themselves out. Six firemen and two highway patrolmen were overcome by pesticide fumes at the accident site. The Beaufort County Public Information Officer stated that none of the chemicals spilled, but the barrels' lids had come off because of the heat. The road closed for several days for cleanup. None of the injuries were reported life-threatening.

Chloyprifos, commonly known as DursbanTM or LorsbanTM is the active ingredient in over 800 pesticide products and is in the family of approximately 40 widely used organophosphate pesticides, known neurotoxic chemicals. It is the thirteenth most commonly used pesticide in agriculture, with 13 million pounds applied annually. Acute exposure can result in such symptoms as numbness, incoordination, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, anxiety, drowsiness, depression, and muscle twitching. In 1997, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs', Health Effects Division reported that chlorpyrifos is one of the leading causes of acute insecticide poisoning incidents in the U.S.

Chlorpyrifos has been under controversy for decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and chlorpyrifos manufacturers agreed to phase-out most chlorpyrifos household uses, citing children's high risks associated with chlorpyrifos exposure, in June 2000. Agriculture (excluding tomatoes), golf course, mosquito control and containerized baits are not affected by the agreement. The EPA chlorpyrifos agreement begins the process of getting high consumer and children exposure uses of chlorpyrifos off the market, but continues to put people at risk by not stopping all its uses immediately.