Urea Not as Safe as Advertised

| May 18, 2009

I’m a veteran of more than 50 years in the trucking business, with 40 of those years spent as an owner-operator. Since I retired about two years ago, I have been testing the new 2010 Detroit Diesel with this “diesel fluid” tank, as you call it. We call it urea.

Though it is not classified as a hazardous material by the DOT and your source, Mr. Jim Spooner of Colonial Chemicals in New Jersey, says it is safe and inexpensive, you do a disservice to us all by not getting the facts right and taking one source as your proof.

The Material Safety Data Sheet provides the following guidelines for what to do if you come into contact with urea: Move to fresh air if inhaled and provide artificial respiration if needed; wash skin with soap and water, and if there is a rash contact physician right away; flush eyes immediately with water for 15 minutes. If it catches fire, it will burn a strong ammonia smell (carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide) – avoid breathing the fumes. Wear personal protective equipment, wear safety glasses and rubber gloves and use in a well-ventilated area. Toxic inhalation may cause respiratory tract problems, and it can be irritating to the eyes.

I personally had some of this stuff blow out of the plastic tank and onto the hot muffler, and the smell was so bad I began to stop breathing. I had to get out of the truck immediately the odor of ammonia was so strong. When filling the urea tanks if they spill over it must be cleaned up immediately or fluffy white foamy residue will form on the tanks, and you must wear safety glasses, rubber gloves and clothing protection when you fill up these tanks. I know; I have been doing this for two years, and it is not as safe as you want truckers to believe. So with all due respect, get your facts straight and retract what you said in Truckers News, or at least check it out and print a follow-up.

I will be looking for it. Many truckers are going to get sick, hurt or maybe even die if they are not trained on how to use this product. I am trained, and it’s not as easy as you try to make it out to be. It can be very dangerous even though DOT has not classified it as a hazmat product.
Rob Williams
Gresham, Ore.

Editor Gets It Right
I wanted to thank you for the balance you struck in your article entitled “Historically Speaking.” You presented well the problems with deficit spending by the government and why the market correction would happen much easier if the government would get out of the way and stop trying to “help.”

Government doesn’t seem to have learned from history and seems poised to make the same interventionist mistakes that prolonged the Great Depression. The worst idea right now is printing more money and spending ourselves into oblivion. However, as long as we have people in power who are not listening to sound advice or common sense, we will suffer under their choices for “handling the economy.”

We must all make our voices heard to our representatives to try and stop this reckless spending.
Robert C. Cox
Waite Park, Minn.

Help our vets
I am a Navy veteran – and former OTR driver and operations manager. Many of your readers are veterans, and we need help getting the word out about what we are trying to do to help our homeless veterans. There are an estimated 500,000-840,000 homeless vets. They proudly served their country in a branch of our Armed Services – 500,000-840,000 who came home after doing their duty, only they really didn’t come home. These are the veterans many Americans do not want to think about.

“Three Hots and a Cot” is a nonprofit organization formed to serve our homeless veterans. Through cooperation with current initiatives available and working with the Veterans Administration our initiative is to help homeless veterans make the transition to a self-sustained lifestyle.

Our initiative is to establish a Veterans Transition Center to provide for the needs of the homeless veterans. Our center will be in Birmingham, Ala., a city identified by the VA and civic leaders as needing a center like ours. The center will be a residency facility and a location to meet the daily needs of the veteran who is not a resident. Please visit our website at www.cotsforvets.org for more details on our initiative and our organization.
J.D. Simpson
Director, Three Hots and a Cot
Birmingham, Ala.

Find a Toilet
I read an opinion about truckers using bottles to relieve themselves. I am a female trucker, and I feel that not using public bathrooms when available is rather piggish and downright lazy.

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