Sections of the Baltimore Beltway, parts of two Anne Arundel County highways and a stretch of Pennington Avenue in Curtis Bay turned into bloody messes last night, the result of a malfunctioning valve on a tanker truck hauling animal blood and body parts to a processing plant in Curtis Bay.
The slimy mess that began near Catonsville covered at least six miles in all and "smelled to high heaven," according to Cpl. James Forbes of the State Police Golden Ring barracks.
He said the spill prompted more than a dozen calls shortly after 11 p.m. from motorists who wanted to know what it was that stuck to their cars and gave off a horrible odor.
When he arrived on the scene of the original spill at the Beltway south of Wilkens Avenue, Corporal Forbes said, he had to roll up the windows of his patrol car and turn off the air-conditioning because of the odor.
"Besides blood, I have no idea what else was in that mess," Corporal Forbes said.
He said the tanker truck, owned by Valley Protein Inc. in the 1500 block of Open St. in Curtis Bay, was southbound on the Beltway around 11 p.m. when a valve on the vehicle's 500-gallon blood tank broke, allowing blood and ground-up animal body parts from several rendering firms to spill onto the slow lane.
"There weren't any large globs of the stuff," Corporal Forbes said, "just a thin layer of blood that covered many sections of the Beltway's slow lane and the other highways."
It was not immediately known where the blood and body parts were loaded onto the truck.
The corporal said the driver, whose name was not available, apparently pulled over several times because there were pools of blood along the Beltway's shoulder and sections of routes 10 and 710 in Anne Arundel County and Pennington Avenue in the city.
"The driver had to know he had a problem and should have stopped immediately along the Beltway and reported the spill and not continued on," Corporal Forbes said.
There were no accidents reported by drivers either from skidding on the mess or swerving to avoid it.
Corporal Forbes said a motorist who followed the truck and witnessed the spill jotted down the name of the company and called the police.
A company official was notified and an investigation was begun.
Corporal Forbes said fire stations from the city and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties responded to the spill and first attempted to wash the stuff off but stopped when the mess foamed up.
"The water was making the situation worse," he said.
Road crews then responded and covered the blood and ground-up parts with sand while police guided traffic onto adjacent lanes.