A tractor trailer loaded up with 40,000 pounds of rotten potatoes was given a police escort to a Virginia landfill yesterday due to concerns about the abandoned load’s toxicity.
The truck loaded up with the ‘taters had apparently been abandoned off of I-95 in Richmond sometime in August, local news outlet The Progress-Index reports.
By the time that the truck was discovered, the potatoes had decomposed to the point that they could be dangerous to anyone who came into contact with them.
Dr. Eric Miller with with Aqua Terra Environmental explains: “Rotting vegetables, like potatoes, emit a harmful gas that has been known to render people unconscious and has even led to death. Therefore, the trailer could not be unloaded on sight and had to be repaired and transported to the landfill.”
On Wednesday truck driver Joey Pate (and a police escort) took the load from the location where it had been discovered to a location on Old Stage Road, traveling at 5 — 10 m.p.h. for safety. Then on Thursday, they resumed the slow journey to their final destination at Shoosmith Bros. Landfill in Chester, Virginia, with three police cruisers escorting.
Pate said, “The police escort was necessary since the tractor trailer was damaged, and safety measures were taken just in case something happened en route to the dump causing the potatoes to spill onto the road. I’ve been driving professionally for over 15 years and this is my first police-escort experience.”
Once at the landfill, a technician was obliged to don an oxygen mask and protective gear to open the trailer to dump the rotten potatoes.
Though dying from toxic gas caused by rotten potatoes is rare, it does happen. Notably, in 2013, four members of a Russian family were killed from the gas caused by rotten potatoes stored in a basement area.