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Second tanker in recent days rolls and leaks diesel fuel, shutting down Richardson Highway

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published January 18, 2017

The year's second fuel tank rollover reported by state environmental regulators shut down the Richardson Highway for more than an hour on Tuesday, with a minor spill of ultra-low-sulfur diesel on the highway.

The crashes have underscored concern about dangers posed to motorists and the environment amid a rising number of tanker-truck accidents in recent years. The fuel is often hauled up the Richardson Highway from Valdez, in trucks pulling double tankers often bound to support drilling and other industrial operations on the North Slope oil fields. Regulators have said trucking companies are taking steps to reduce the number of accidents.

Tuesday's rollover came after a Big State Logistics truck lost traction at the Keystone Canyon, at Mile 17.5 of the highway. The second fuel tank briefly slid off the road. The truck driver took corrective action to bring it under control, forcing that so-called pup tank to roll onto the highway and leak, according to a report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

The accident shut down the highway for about 1½ hours, starting about 1:45 p.m., a Valdez official said. About 30 gallons of diesel leaked, but did not leave the road. No injuries were reported, and the truck and main tank were not damaged.

"Big State Logistics placed sorbents at the area that fuel was being released from the tank and sorbent boom was placed around the entire secondary tank," the ADEC report said. "Big State Logistics transferred the fuel oil from the compromised secondary tank to another tank trailer."

In an incident on Jan. 9 involving a two-tanker truck owned by Colville Transport, the DEC reported an estimated 4,000-gallon spill of ultra-low-sulfur fuel, along the highway about 20 miles south of Paxson. A right-front tire left the pavement, and the truck rolled into the ditch, leading to a puncture in the main tank.