By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Tanker truck spills over 4000 gallons of diesel

Rig overturned on icy Richardson Highway last week


Courtesy photo

The Alaska Petroleum truck shortly after it overturned on the Richardson Highway Dec. 9, spilling over 4,000 gallons of low sulfur diesel.

Clean up efforts have been ongoing since late last week after a tanker trailer overturned on the north side of Thompson Pass on the Richardson Highway, spilling over 4000 gallons of diesel.

The accident occurred the evening of Dec. 9.

Alaska State Troopers (AST) said the driver of the rig, Lawrence Cook, age 65 of North Pole, lost control of the rig pulling double tanker-trailers for Alaska Petroleum Distributors, Inc. while northbound near Milepost 47.

According to the AST report, Cook drove off the edge of the roadway, which was covered in ice and snow, which caused the rear tanker trailer to overturn, spilling an estimated 4,400 gallons of low-sulfur diesel onto the roadway near Tiekel. Cook was issued a citation for basic speed and driving too fast for road conditions.

"They don't know how fast he was going," Megan Peters, spokeswoman for AST, said in a telephonic interview Monday. "He was cited for traveling too fast for conditions."

Officials say no diesel reached the nearby creeks, one of many threaded throughout the area near the Tiekel River and no pollutants have reached running water in the area. Nor was any wildlife reportedly impacted by the spill. The Alaska Dispatch reported that the spill "...impacted an estimated 3,000-square-foot area alongside the highway, according to ADEC."

The Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Coast Guard responded to the spill. Emerald Alaska has been contracted to clean up the spill.

Personnel from the Coast Guard in Valdez responded at the behest of the EPA according to Lt. Ben Bauman of the Marine Safety Unit in Valdez.

"The Coast Guard responded to help that group of folks," Bauman said Monday.

The Coast Guard's involvement was outside its normal area of operations.

"Our jurisdiction here includes the Lowe River up to Thompson Pass," Bauman said, unless directed otherwise. "In cases like this the Coast Guard is going to do what's necessary to assist the agencies involved. It was a proximity thing."

Photo courtesy ADEC

A view of the tanker-trailer up-righted after the wreck that spawned a large fuel spill on the Richardson Highway.


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