The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Crash of oil tanker at Dayville Road intersection prompts massive response

Big State estimates 2,500 gallons of diesel spilled after big rig and trailers totaled


February 28, 2018

Photo courtesy ADEC

Fuel was lightered from the pup trailer of the Big State Logistics oil tanker shortly after the rig failed to stop at the end of Dayville Rd. and crossed the two-lanes of the Richardson Highway and crashed into trees on the other side.

The driver of the semi truck towing two full trailers of diesel a week ago Tuesday was able to walk away from the crash at the intersection of Dayville Road and the Richardson Highway.

The incident occurred at around 9:00 p.m. on February 22, according to officials, who also say the incident was promptly reported to authorities shortly after the crash.

Big State Logistics, the owners of the tanker, estimated 2,500 gallons of #2 Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel was spilled after the driver failed to stop at the stop sign on Dayville Road; instead, the rig crossed the highway and moved directly into the heavily wooded area running parallel to the road.

"The trailer of the BSL truck flipped over after leaving the roadway," said the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation in the situation report issued after the accident. "Icy road conditions and low visibility contributed to the accident."

Authorities reported Monday that clean up response crews have collected "approximately 10,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater" which was collected by vac-trucks for separation.

"Absorbent boom has been placed in several locations along a tributary to the Robe River, and is being monitored," ADEC said.

Authorities said nearby Robe River does not appear to be impacted and that well-water sources will be monitored.

"The spill occurred on frozen ground with a large snow pack off the side of the road. The Robe River is directly west of the spill but at this time does not appear to be impacted," ADEC said. "At this time, the spilled fuel continues to appear to be migrating away from the river, but the investigation is ongoing."

However, groundwater contamination has been found according to the situation report.

"ADEC personnel have investigated Robe River tributaries and have, at this time, not seen evidence of contamination," the agency said. "Groundwater 3 feet below ground surface has been impacted in the immediate area of the spill. Samples from nearby wells have been collected to determine potential contamination."

In addition to ADEC, responding agencies include the US Coast Guard, the Valdez Fire Department and contractors hire by Big State Logistics; members of the Alaska National Guard, who were in Valdez to participate in drill exercises were given some real-time emergency experience in helping with the clean up process.

Valdez Star photo

US Coast Guard responders assess possible damage to water ways after the oil tanker crash.

"Guardsmen from the 103rd Civil Support Team, Alaska National Guard, and Washington National Guard Homeland Response Force worked with first responders after a real-life diesel fuel tanker truck crashed near a water way," Capt. Joseph Siemandel said Friday in a news release. "Teams were called to dig trenches and lay down chemical quick dry to avert the fuel from reaching a fresh water stream."

The National Guard units are uniquely qualified to participate in the real life incident.

"We have about 250 Guardsmen in Valdez for this exercise and many of them are part of the response cell for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear response and they have the training to operate in a hazardous materials environment and the personal protection equipment to do that too," said Lt. Col. Steve Wilson, Joint Forces, Alaska National Guard.

ADEC said Monday it will "continue to monitor the response actions and review plans being developed to further delineate the affected area, as well as additional containment and cleanup actions that may be required."


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