Troopers: Truck driver charged in Monday Thruway chemical spill at Rotterdam

ROTTERDAM – The tractor-trailer driver state police say caused a massive spill of iron oxide down a stretch of the Thruway early Monday has been charged, troopers said Tuesday. Mohamed M. Sheriff, 29, of Philadelphia, was charged with one count of misdemeanor reckless endangerment, as well as multiple traffic infractions that include leaving the scene of a property damage accident, state police said.

Troopers say Sheriff’s tractor trailer struck the Gordon Road overpass just after midnight Monday, ripping open his trailer and spilling a bag containing iron oxide onto the roadway. Sheriff was aware of the damage and spill, but continued on to his destination at Benjamin Moore in Amsterdam, state police said.

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Troopers found Sheriff there later Monday morning as he unloaded his cargo, state police said. State police tracked the truck down by following markings from the spilled iron oxide to the Thruway exit at Amsterdam. They found the truck and Sheriff at about 5 a.m.

The truck was identified as from the N&V Group out of Philadelphia. The chemical spill affected about a half-mile of the highway. Crews spent most of the morning cleaning it up.

Iron oxide is deemed hazardous due to the possibility of it being inhaled. If inhaled at high rates, it can cause irritation to the respiratory tract and eyes. It can be safely removed from a vehicle by washing it.

The westbound lanes between Exits 25 and 26 were closed for the entire morning. It had reopened just after noon. A final closed lane reopened later in the day. 

Most of the material was swept up by contractors in protective clothing. Crews used water to rinse the remainder off the road.  The DEC monitored the cleanup. All westbound traffic was diverted off the Thruway at Exit 25 to renter at Exit 26, state police said.

Sheriff was processed and released to appear in court later this month.

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