Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Truck spills fuel in S.P.

Published in the American Journal

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.

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 flowed 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 containment.

A spokesman for Clean Harbors said the amount of the spill was “sizeable.” The company said it would not have a good handle on how long the cleanup will take before the American Journal’s deadline.

It will take at least until Wednesday afternoon, according to the South Portland Police Department. A cruiser has been assigned to block the right-turn lane coming off the bridge onto Broadway through Wednesday afternoon. That will allow cleanup workers to use the road as they collect contaminated dirt from the area around the spill.

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.