A commercial motor vehicle carrying refrigerated liquid hydrogen is being safely depressurized after a leak forced its travel to come to a standstill just south of Las Cruces.
The Las Cruces Fire Department’s Hazardous Material Response Team, firefighters and law enforcement personnel are on scene and working closely with the transportation company to mitigate the hazard.
Fire and law enforcement authorities were notified of the leak about 5:20 p.m. Thursday, April 1.
Las Cruces fire personnel learned the commercial motor vehicle was traveling from California to Texas when the two-person crew noticed what appeared to be smoke emitting from the tanker trailer. The crew called 911 and safely pulled to the side of the road on eastbound Interstate 10 near the I-10 and I-25 interchange, just south of Las Cruces. Fire, law enforcement and Department of Transportation personnel then escorted the CMV to a safe location south of New Mexico State University’s main campus.
The CMV is resting in an isolated area and the refrigerated liquid hydrogen does not appear to pose an immediate threat to any nearby residential areas or structures.
The hazmat response team is in contact with the transportation company and is working with the CMV crew to safely depressurize, or off-gas, the tanker to a level that is safe enough to travel to El Paso.
Refrigerated liquid hydrogen is a colorless and odorless gas. It is a flammable gas that is lighter than air and burns with an invisible flame. At no time was the material on fire. Crews believe the gas was merely leaking from the tanker.
The hazmat crew anticipates the process of depressurizing the tank to take a few hours. The CMV will then be escorted to a facility in El Paso.