4 hospitalized, hundreds evacuated after chemical leak in Cherokee County

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A leak of an unknown substance on a delivery truck forced hundreds to evacuate, sent four people to the hospital, and shut down a large portion of Interstate 575 between Woodstock and Canton Friday afternoon.

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FOX 5 crews were being kept several football fields back from the Pilgrim’s Pride on Univeter Road where FedEx truck was leaking an unknown substance around 2 p.m. Friday. SKYFOX 5 flew over the scene and spotted a red liquid leaking from the tractor-trailer.

Director Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said HAZMAT crews were able to determine it was a compound called Organic Peroxide Type F, which can produce airborne fumes. Baker said two people at the plant were exposed to the compound and were taken to an area hospital complaining of breathing problems.

About 300 people inside the plant were immediately evacuated as well as several nearby businesses and a trailer park.

Baker said the leak likely started somewhere in transit as two construction workers also fell ill shortly after the tractor-trailer passed them on I-575 as it traveled northbound. That also prompted the busy interstate highway to be shut down while crews worked to clean and clear the substance.

FedEx was sending a specialized response team to assist in the cleanup efforts.

I-575 was shut down between exits 14 and 16 and the surrounding roadways were barricaded to all but emergency traffic for a couple of hours causing delays into the early evening commute.