Alaska News

Thousands of gallons of diesel spilled in Dalton Highway crash

A tractor-trailer hauling diesel north from Fairbanks overturned near Mile 86 of the Dalton Highway, spilling an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of the fuel, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

That figure came from Colville Inc., the truck's operator, DEC said. The accident was reported to the agency at 11:18 a.m. Wednesday, about two hours after the truck went off the road.

"For a truck, that's a significant spill," DEC on-scene coordinator Tom DeRuyter said.

The tractor-trailer "lost traction and slid backward off the roadway and rolled into a ditch," the DEC release said. "The rear compartment of the trailer ruptured when hitting a tree stump."

DeRuyter said he was told the driver did not sustain any life-threatening injuries but received a "couple of bumps and bruises." Colville CEO Eric Helzer said the driver was doing fine Thursday afternoon.

The truck crashed about 30 miles north of the Yukon River in a heavily wooded area with about 3 feet of snow, DeRuyter said.

"Whether it (the diesel fuel) stayed in the ditch or went into the forest, we don't know yet," DeRuyter said.


Fuel remaining in the truck was removed and taken to Prudhoe Bay Wednesday. Responders also began work Wednesday to determine the extent of the spill -- work they hoped to complete Thursday.

Colville sent a team to respond to the spill, the DEC's release said.

The company is working on a response plan, which Helzer said they have 48 hours to complete. The DEC then will have to approve the plan. Helzer hopes to have the cleanup in progress by Saturday morning.

DeRuyter said the site was "stable" early Thursday evening.

"They are drafting site safety plans for workers (and) traffic control plans," DeRuyter said. "They have to be able to know how they are going to be able to clean this up and house the personnel and get equipment to the site so logistically they can support their cleanup plan when they start."

Removal of the equipment and truck was completed Thursday, Helzer said.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.