Skip to main Content

Tanker-trailer spills fuel in Richardson Highway wreck near Paxson

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published January 11, 2017

Thousands of gallons of diesel fuel are believed to have spilled Monday afternoon from a double tanker-trailer that rolled into a ditch on the Richardson Highway, Alaska officials said.

Alaska State Troopers responded to the crash, near Mile 164.4 of the Richardson about 20 miles south of Paxson, at 3:40 p.m. Monday, according to an online dispatch. A report on the spill from the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the tanker-trailer's operator, Colville Transport, informed regulators of the wreck about 20 minutes later.

A Colville Transport double tanker-trailer rolled into this ditch near Mile 164.4 of the Richardson Highway on Monday. An estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in the wreck. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

"The truck was northbound on the Richardson Highway when the front right steer tire went off the edge of the pavement, causing the truck to go into the northbound ditch and roll onto its passenger side," troopers wrote. "The lead tanker's front compartment was leaking and reported to have approximately 4,400 gallons of diesel fuel inside."

Troopers said the driver, 57-year-old Thomas Gray, was taken to a clinic in a private vehicle for evaluation.

Several tanker-trailers wrecked and caused spills on the Richardson last year, as oil companies transport ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel — federally required for use at North Slope oil fields — by road from Valdez.

Colville told DEC officials that an estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel had spilled from the breached compartment of the lead trailer. Cleanup crews sent by Colville were able to remove all remaining fuel from the tankers and tractor by 3 a.m. Tuesday, and worked to remove contaminated plants, snow and soil.

The spill occurred along a 175-foot strip of federal land within the highway's right-of-way roughly 4 to 6 feet wide, according to DEC.

"No surface water is present within one mile from the spill site," DEC officials wrote. "There have been no reports of impacts to wildlife, although caribou is currently migrating through the area and measures will be taken to prevent any adverse impact."

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities also responded to the crash, and is investigating its exact cause.

NOTE: The photo caption appearing with this article was incorrectly captioned to indicate the vehicle was operated by Colville Logistics. It has been corrected to reflect that the operator was actually Colville Transport.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.