According to local news outlet The Progress-Index, the tractor trailer was abandoned off of I-95 sometime in August and its entire load went bad. It carried about 40,000 pounds of potatoes and that kind of volume of rotten taters is actually toxic – and potentially lethal. Hence the need for a police escort.
“Rotting vegetables, like potatoes, emit a harmful gas that has been known to render people unconscious and has even led to death,” Dr. Eric Miller with Aqua Terra Environmental explains. “Therefore, the trailer could not be unloaded on sight and had to be repaired and transported to the landfill.”
It took two and a half hours to move the tractor trailer from the point where it was abandoned to the landfill, and the operation took 2 days to complete. A local tow truck company repaired the truck and a driver helped move it to another location, from where he drove it to the landfill the next day.
He tells the media outlet that he was only allowed to drive at speeds of 5 maximum 10 mph because of the risk that the truck would break down again. A tow truck followed the police escort, carrying hazmat suits and whatever tools they would have needed in case the tractor trailer broke down again.
“The police escort was necessary since the tractor trailer was damaged, and safety measures were taken just in case something happened en route to the dump causing the potatoes to spill onto the road. I’ve been driving professionally for over 15 years and this is my first police-escort experience,” the driver says.
In all, 3 police cars escorted the truck with the toxic load. Once at the landfill, a technician equipped with protective gear and an oxygen mask helped unload the trailer. The landfill doesn’t normally take hazardous material, but they made an exception this time since it was organic.