It was an odd procession that headed through Chester on Thursday, Sept. 5.
A tractor-trailer, wrecker and multiple police cars went to what may seem to be an unlikely destination: the Shoosmith landfill off Lewis Road and Route 10.
A broken-down trailer was discovered at Bells Road and Interstate 95 in Richmond, and it contained a less-than-pleasing aromatic load of 40,000 pounds of rotting potatoes.
Though not pleasant, it’s not the smell that is hazardous, but what comes from the potatoes as they decay. If potatoes are kept in a mostly sealed room and begin to rot, the room will fill with toxic gases that can kill anyone who enters that room. Potatoes that have yet to fully ripen have a toxin called solanine, which is dangerous.
Not to worry, though; according to Quora.com, fatal cases of solanine poisoning are very rare these days. Most commercial varieties of potatoes are screened for solanine, but any potato will build up the toxin to dangerous levels if exposed to light or stored improperly.
To protect the community, Chesterfield County Police accepted the mission to escort the delivery of the load to the local landfill.
“Richmond reached out to us about the load and the fact that the vehicle had to have significant repairs to it to become functional, so we felt it prudent considering the waste and the vehicle issues to assist for the safety of all involved,” police spokeswoman Liz Caroon said.
Three police cruisers were used as escorts.
“This was an unusual operation,” Caroon said. The convoy traveled through Chester using Battery Danzler Road to Old Stage Road to Route 10 to the landfill.