The Arizona Department of Public Safety's (AZDPS) Hazardous Materials Response Unit (HMRU) is dedicated to providing statewide response and support for incidents related to hazardous materials, radiological materials and weapons of mass destruction.
While all Arizona State Troopers are trained to recognize and take protective measures for hazmat incidents, the HMRU’s technicians and specialists have more extensive training, field experience and specialized certifications. HMRU handles both transportation and non-transportation incidents, responding in the event of an actual or potential uncontrolled discharge of hazardous materials. They respond to an average of 300 incidents per year, ranging from minor fuel leaks to clandestine drug labs and complex collision scenes.
Just last weekend, on Sunday, June 20, 2021, troopers responded to a collision involving a commercial tanker carrying gasoline. The vehicle went over a steep embankment on eastbound US 60 outside of Globe, coming to rest on its side 75 feet below the roadway in a wash. Fortunately, the driver sustained only minor injuries.
While only a small amount of fuel leaked from a saddle tank in the collision, troopers still needed to safely remove 7,500 gallons of gasoline from the cargo tank before the vehicle could be turned upright and removed. Hazmat specialists with HMRU evaluated the scene and coordinated a response, using a ladder to access the tanker due to its challenging location. Wearing firefighter bunker gear for protection, the troopers drilled holes in the cargo tank and pumped the gasoline load up to another tanker on the roadway above. Once emptied, the troopers supervised as the crashed tanker was removed from the scene by a heavy-duty cleanup contractor.
The Arizona Department of Transportation, Tri-City Fire District, Diamond Trucking and Emergency Environmental Services assisted on the scene.