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Tanker trailer rolls, spilling 5,000 gallons of heating oil on Richardson Highway

A Crowley tanker trailer rolled and spilled 5,000 gallons of heating oil at Mile 105 of the Richardson Highway on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (Alaska Department of Transportation)

A tanker trailer carrying 5,000 gallons of heating oil rolled Tuesday afternoon on the Richardson Highway, leading to a significant spill, authorities say.

A Crowley Fuels truck was pulling double fuel trailers between Mile 104 and 105 of the highway, near Copper Center, when it veered off the road just after 1:30 p.m., Alaska State Troopers said. The rear trailer ended up on its side.

The tankers had a 5,000-gallon capacity, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. All of its contents leaked onto the roadway.

The trailer got dragged down the highway far “enough to compromise the integrity of the tank,” said Ron Doyel, Prince William Sound unit supervisor for DEC.

The truck and lead trailer — with a capacity for 8,500 gallons of heating oil — remained upright.

Cleanup efforts began late Tuesday, troopers said. Crowley was working with regulators to develop a plan.

The Richardson Highway was reduced to one lane at times. An investigation is ongoing.

By Wednesday morning, about 1,500 gallons of fuel had been recovered, Doyel said. The location of the spill was fortunate in that there are no major waterways nearby, he said. The rollover was about a mile north of the Klutina River and a mile west of the Copper River.

The highway is more crowded than usual with the Fourth of July holiday ahead and traffic from dipnetters.

Drivers can detour through Copper Center.

The crash was the latest of numerous rollovers along the highway that’s heavily used by trucks hauling tankers from Valdez. The crashes pose concerns for public safety and the environment, officials say. Regulators have said trucking companies are working on improvements.

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