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

Valdez Star 

Misdemeanor charge pending for driver of tanker truck that overturned

Wreck last February spilled diesel near Richardson Highway off of Dayville Road


September 5, 2018

Valdez Star file photo

The driver of the semi-truck hauling two full trailers of diesel last February has been recently summonsed by law enforcement to appear in court this Thursday to answer to a charge of oil pollution.

The driver of a tanker truck that spilled over 2,000 gallons of diesel after it crashed on the Richardson Highway off of Dayville Road last February is facing a misdemeanor charge of oil pollution.

The driver, Louis Nations, age 61 of Valdez, was issued a summons Aug. 22 to appear in Valdez Court this Thursday for arraignment.

Nations was charged in March with reckless driving in relation to the crash and the case is still pending. The matter is on the October 15, Calendar Call.

The oil pollution charge summons was issued through the State of Alaska according Nation's attorney, Jon Wiederholt.

The Valdez Star reported in February that 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 Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said at the time that "icy road conditions and low visibility contributed to the accident."

Clean-up efforts in the aftermath were large and costly due to the spillage and its close proximity to the Robe River.

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

DEC also reported at the time that there was no evidence of contamination of groundwater in the area, where the water table was estimated to be only three feet below the surface.

"Samples from nearby wells have been collected to determine potential contamination," DEC said.

The initial response included containing and reclaiming the released diesel and lightering diesel from the rig's trailers.

"Response resources brought to site included a vacuum truck for removal of free product and sorbent materials," DEC said.

Valdez was hosting a large contingent of National Guard personnel at the time of the spill, who were engaging in a statewide emergency exercise. The real-life wreck provided an opportunity for members to help mitigate the real-time emergency.

File photo courtesy Alaska National Guard

The Alaska National Guard was already in Valdez for a disaster exercise that included dealing with oil pollution so they ready to pitch in on the real-life spill clean-up efforts.

Clean up contractors eventually removed approximately 10,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater, along with contaminated snow and water which were first stored in lined containment cells.

Nations was unharmed in the wreck and witnesses that arrived on the scene shortly after the accident found the driver well away from the wreckage on the highway, having freed himself from the truck.

Oil Pollution charges fall under Alaska Statute 46.03.740 and states in part: a person may not discharge, cause to be discharged, or permit the discharge of petroleum, acid, coal or oil tar, lapblack, aniline, bitumen, or a residuary product of petroleum, into, or upon the waters or land of the State except in quantities, and at times or locations or under circumstances and conditions as the department may by regulation permit or where permitted under Article 4 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil.


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