Hazmat alarm closes Rt. 17 at rush hour

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Jul 17, 2013 - 01:38 PM

Photo: Emergency vehicles clustered on Route 17 Wednesday morning as they responded to a report of a hazardous materials release in a roadfront business. The busy thoroughfare remained closed for hours as the investigation continued. The blue tents are decontamination centers for firefighters who got close to the hazardous materials. Photo by Bill Nachman

Emergency vehicles clustered on Route 17 Wednesday morning as they responded to a report of a hazardous materials release in a roadfront business. The busy thoroughfare remained closed for hours as the investigation continued. The blue tents are decontamination centers for firefighters who got close to the hazardous materials. Photo by Bill Nachman

A hazardous materials incident Wednesday morning at Hayes caused traffic to be detoured off Route 17 for hours and some nearby businesses to be closed.

Emergency officials said they were notified of an incident about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at Advanced Metal Finishing, located in the 2900 block of Route 17 (George Washington Memorial Highway), south of Powhatan Drive. At first, responders thought they were responding to a report of a structure fire, said Ryan Cookson, chief deputy of the Gloucester Sheriff’s office, during a media briefing at midmorning Wednesday, but soon determined that there was no fire and that a hazardous materials incident had occurred.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, traffic was still being detoured off Route 17 through a residential neighborhood, with traffic backups along Route 17 stretching for several miles during morning rush hour, officials said.

A voluntary evacuation was in effect for nearby residences, Cookson said, and by midmorning only residents to Peppers Apartments, located near Advanced Metal Finishing, were not allowed to return to their homes.