An estimated 600 gallons of hydrochloric acid that leaked from a tanker truck forced the evacuation of about 200 people from a truck stop facility in Hesperia Monday night, officials said.
The incident was reported shortly before 5 p.m. when a truck driver hauling 4,800 gallons of the acidic solution pulled into the Pilot Travel Center at Joshua Street and U.S. Hwy 395, just west of Interstate 15, according to the the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
The driver told authorities that he smelled the foul odor of acid when he exited his truck.
During an inspection, he discovered the acid leak coming from a faulty valve underneath the tank and "immediately left the area" to call firefighters, the department said in a statement.
Sheriff’s deputies evacuated about 200 people from the truck stop facility.
More than an hour later, the acid inside the tanker had been offloaded to another carrier. Authorities estimated that about 600 gallons of the acid had leaked from the semi hauler.
Hydrochloric acid has many industrial uses, such as household cleaning products and petroleum production. The solution can cause several respiratory problems or even death if ingested or inhaled. Burning of the throat and lungs can occur, as well as skin irritation.
Authorities said a slight breeze to the north pushed the odor away from the facility. The acid odor could be smelled upward of a mile away, but no injuries were reported, officials said.
The truck stop remained closed as clean-up efforts continued overnight.