Update: Chemical spill declared clean and safe

The Santa Clara County fire department responded to a hazardous

A hazardous material spill on U.S. 101 stalled rush-hour traffic
for about six hours Tuesday.
A hazardous material spill on U.S. 101 stalled rush-hour traffic for about six hours Tuesday.

Police responded to a medical call from the driver of a 1998 International big-rig on the northbound side of the freeway about 1:34 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol officer Jaime Rios.

Upon arrival, officers discovered the driver was having difficulty breathing, and found that his truck was leaking an unknown chemical onto the shoulder of U.S. 101 between Dunne and Tennant avenues, where the vehicle was stopped, police said.

Police called the Santa Clara County Fire Department to the scene, and the leaking chemical was later determined to be sodium hydroxide, or lye, a common ingredient in soap and detergent. About five gallons of the chemical spilled out of the truck onto the freeway.

Authorities contained the leak shortly after it was discovered, and continued cleaning the spill until about 8 p.m. when the scene was declared safe, Rios said.

During the cleanup, the far right northbound lane was closed, as was the northbound on-ramp from Tennant Avenue to U.S. 101.

The driver of the truck was uninjured and no injuries were reported, Rios said.

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