Thursday, April 10, 2003

Truck spills fuel in South Portland

Published in the Current

A tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel flipped over early Monday morning, spilling jet fuel into the street and into storm drains leading to the Fore River and Casco Bay. At least one oil-covered bird has been found dead, and several birds coated with oil have survived, though the full environmental impact remains to be seen.

The truck overturned right outside the South Portland Central Fire Station at the corner of Broadway and Route 77, and closed the Casco Bay Bridge for hours, delaying traffic heading from Portland to South Portland.

Jon Woodard of the state Department of Environmental Protection said the truck was carrying 8,000 gallons. “All of it was released from the truck,” he said. Some was contained on the street and some went into storm drains leading to the water.

“We have collected a lot of it,” Woodard said. The DEP and Clean Harbors, a South Portland-based environmental company handling the cleanup, are using booms to contain the jet fuel that got into the water.

Woodard said the state Department of Marine Resources is sampling the water in the Fore River and Portland harbor to make sure no fuel escaped. He said there have been a few small sheens reported in both of those areas, but does not believe any significant amount escaped.

A spokesman for Clean Harbors said the amount of the spill was “sizeable.” The company said the cleanup is basically complete, but they will continue
to monitor the booms for the next several days.

Woodard said the level of environmental damage remained to be seen. He said the plants “are not really out yet,” and may not suffer much damage, while marine animals and shellfish have different levels of sensitivity to contaminants.