Ammonia Leak Closes Kansas Highway

OLATHE, Kan. --

Ammonia leaking from a tanker truck led Olathe police to close both lanes of 169 Highway Monday night.

The leak closed 16 blocks of 169 Highway for about an hour and a half, from 151st to 167th streets.

A strip mall in the area seemed to be functioning as usual, without any evacuations. It is unknown whether the highway is also closed south of 159th Street or how the leak occurred.

The tanker truck was moved to the Olathe School District Activity Center, where fire crews monitored it for possible safety risks while it was offloaded into another tanker truck.

Fire crews were called to the scene when a passerby called in an an odor coming from the tanker truck, which was pulled over in the right northbound lane of 169 Highway at 159th Street. Fire crews discovered the leak was coming from the rear passenger side, where firefighters said a set screw was missing off a 2-inch pipe.

The fire department said there was no spill of liquid ammonia, in the form it takes in the tanker under pressure, but vapor that was released.

Fire crews said they closed all those roads as a precaution until they were able to get readings on the concentration of the corrosive substance in the air.

The one business fire crews were most concerned about was a Quik Trip just south of 151st Street, but customers and staff there got the all clear rather quickly.

"The wind was pushing it to the north and a little bit to the east, which in that area, it's a commercial area," Olathe Fire Department Capt. Mike Hall. "There's a cemetery there and a lot of commercial buildings that were unoccupied because of time of day."

The Kansas Highway Patrol and Olathe police are investigating to determine if all maintenance and other laws pertaining to that type of equipment were followed.

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