Jessica Mathews /

An overturned tanker truck hauling sulfuric acid forced the closure of US-23 for hours Tuesday – resulting in traffic back-ups and delays and forcing the evacuation of some homes in the area.

The tanker overturned on northbound US-23 near Center Road at around 3:30am.

Both directions of northbound and southbound US-23 shut down in late afternoon between White Lake Road and Center Road. Old US-23 and Runyan Lake Road were closed in the area, and a few homes in very close proximity were evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

US-23 fully re-opened around 7:30pm, after responders were able to get the tanker up-righted, inspected, and on its way.

Livingston County Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte told WHMI it was a very slow process due to the industrial chemicals in the tanker – which was hauling 9,200 pounds of sulfuric acid. She said there was no breach of the tanker and no product spilled.

Cremonte noted the closures were for the safety of the community and the responders because they didn’t want any exposures and weren’t sure how things would go until they could get the tanker up-righted and inspected properly to make sure it wasn’t leaking any product.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office said preliminary investigation showed the truck crossed the entrance ramp for Center Road and shoulder before going off into the grass ditch and overturning, coming to rest on its roof.

Sheriff Mike Murphy noted nothing leaked when the tanker flipped over, everything worked like it should have, and the contents were secure inside.

The tanker truck was registered to KAG Leasing out of Canton, Ohio and was being operated by a 38-year-old Saginaw man. The driver had minor injuries but had to be extricated from the cab and was hospitalized.

Murphy told WHMI the driver stated that he didn't recall what happened prior to the crash. He said when they had contact with the driver he wasn’t exactly sure what happened – adding the driver more than likely fell asleep at that time of the morning but “who really knows” and he’s not sure they’ll ever really know what caused the crash.

Murphy said the incident was a “huge exercise in logistics” and coordinating efforts between numerous agencies, but also good training. As with any significant incident, he said they always review things to make sure they did everything right but also look at what they could possibly do to be better prepared in the future.

Murphy added he thinks sometimes it takes an incident like this to serve as a reminder that there are things that travel by road or rail that have the potential to do some damage – but he stressed people should know that when those things happen, they are prepared to deal with them.

Numerous agencies were involved in the effort – some of which included the Livingston County Hazmat Team, an emergency response team called in by the trucking company, Fenton Fire, Fenton City Police, Livingston County EMS, MDOT, Corrigan Oil, insurance companies, the Livingston County Health Department, the Hartland Deerfield Fire Authority, and Tyrone Township. Cremonte said the township was very helpful and they were able to set up staging at the township hall.