US eyes de-icing chemicals in bridge collapse

22 August 2007 21:57  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--De-icing chemicals may have played a role in the 1 August collapse of an eight-lane highway bridge that killed 13 people at Minneapolis, Minnesota, US federal safety officials said on Wednesday.


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that as part of its inquiry into the disaster it is examining the chemical de-icing system that was installed on the 1,900-foot-long bridge in 1997.


The board, which is the lead federal agency investigating the accident, said it will determine which chemicals were routinely used on the 40-year-old bridge and their respective corrosive properties.


Some bridges in Minnesota and other US states that experience harsh winter weather are fitted with nozzle systems that can spray de-icing or anti-icing chemicals on bridge roadways.


An official with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MDOT) said he was not sure which chemicals were routinely used on the Interstate 35W bridge span that collapsed at the peak of evening rush hour into the Mississippi River.


More than 100 automobiles and their occupants fell some 100 feet with the collapsing span into the river or onto its banks.  A number of construction workers and their equipment also were on the bridge at the time.


An MDOT official said, however, that chemicals typically used to de-ice bridges in the state include calcium magnesium acetate and potassium acetate.


The NTSB emphasized that it has not yet reached even a preliminary explanation for the bridge collapse and that the de-icing chemicals are only one of multiple factors being considered in the investigation.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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