Chemical leak at Paulsboro truck stop releases pungent smell in South Jersey

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A chemical emanating from a tanker truck at a roadhouse in Paulsboro is causing a pungent, gas-like odor that could still be smelled across much of South Jersey on Thursday morning.

Beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, hundreds of Gloucester and Camden county residents called 911 to report the smell, emergency officials said. Complaints came from as far away as Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, 6ABC reported. The scent could also be smelled in South Philadelphia.

Emergency officials determined the smell came from the rear tank of a truck at the TA Travel Center on the 100 block of Berkley Road. Hazmat teams tested the air quality at the truck stop and in other neighborhoods. They determined the smell posed no threat to the public, NBC10 reported.

There was a brief shelter in place order in parts of Gloucester County starting around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, but was lifted at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The gas was identified as a fuel additive called Lubrizol, or zinc alkyl dithiophosphate, by the Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management. Lubrizol is known to cause skin irritation and eye damage, according to a safety data from its manufacturer, but it is not known if the chemical is harmful when inhaled.

Investigators initially believed the smell was caused by a gas leak from a truck, but determined it came from a rear-end tanker carrying 7,000 gallons of the chemical.

Officials said the tanker was working fine, noting it was supposed to expel the high-temperature chemical. Temperatures hit the 90s in South Jersey on Wednesday.

Hazmat teams will continue to monitor the tanker as it releases the chemical, officials said. Once stable, the chemical will be transported. The smell may linger for a while after that.

Investigators were still working to determine who owned the truck.

The Gloucester County Emergency Management Office will operate a call center for residents with questions or concerns from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. The number is (856) 384-6800.

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