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.

Female truckers can’t just whip it out – we have to wait. But I know sometimes you can’t get to a bathroom. As many truck drivers well know, a lot of the rest areas are closed. I counted six in just a couple of days in Cali. You can’t just stop on the highway and relieve yourself. One thing that makes truckers look real bad is that you find bottles of urine up and down the highway. My God, look at truckstops. Are some of you too lazy to get your butt out of the chair to go pee in a bathroom? I caught a trucker throwing out a gallon milk jug of urine onto the ground. Yes, a gallon. He must have been saving this for a while. To make things worse, there was the trash can 15 feet away. Yet I saw him 20 minutes later running for the buffet. And I couldn’t help hearing him talk to a waitress and manager about how the truckstop had gotten worse about being clean. I made a point of letting the manager know that that trucker is one of the reasons for the conditions.

Come on, fellow truckers, get some exercise! Run for the toilet! Helps with health conditions, and guess what: You may even burn a calorie or two.
N. Stevens
Lakeside, Ariz.


Where is the worst place (state, region, etc.) to park in the U.S., and why?
Via Facebook:
Connecticut! Rude people (I live there), tiny truckstops and there is always high traffic and fuel prices.
- Padraic S.

All of New England. They lack truckstops. I don’t know of one Flying J or Petro up there. The last TA is in NH on 95 just before getting into Maine. I hear zoning laws don’t allow any truckstops in New England.
- Duane H.

Via Twitter:
Baltimore and that whole region. Not enough truckstops for the traffic through there.
- @TXviper

I think the worst region to park is the DC region and California.
- @drivergeoff

I think most of the East Coast from what I have heard, mainly New York (City), New Jersey and Virginia.
- @zionxpress

My least favorite was North Louisiana just outside of Texas. Another is south of Yuma [Arizona].
- @LoneStarTrailer

Worst: Long Beach, CA. Deliver there every week, no parking. Can’t idle, and I have no TriPac.
- @suzytrucker


What do you think of trucker bombs?
“I think it’s a problem only when truckers throw the bottles out of their trucks. There should be tickets for littering. Truckers need to be more responsible.”
- Kevin Lago

“If there where more real sit-down truckstops then there would be no need to pee in a bottle. I can understand doing it if you have to, but at least have the decency to throw it in the trash.”
- Ken Hilderbrand

“I personally can’t stand them. My father has had three windshields busted out because of them. Those that do it should be fined.”
- Mike Martin

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