SAN RAFAEL (KPIX 5) — A gasoline tanker truck overturned on a rural Marin County road Sunday morning, leaking some of its load into a dry creek bed. But the California Highway Patrol says it’s a road the truck never should have been on.
The tanker truck was heading to Pt. Reyes to make a delivery and the driver decided to take curvy Lucas Valley Road, where are a lot of hairpin turns in the area. There are posted signs saying trucks more than 36 feet long are prohibited. When the 50-foot long tanker reached a tight curve, there wasn’t enough room to keep the rear tires on the road.
“And the right side tires of the trailer ended up going down the hill, pulling the whole truck with it, overturning in the process,” said CHP Public Information Officer Andrew Barclay.
The driver escaped with a minor injury, but the overturned truck began leaking gasoline into the soil of the dry creek bed, causing an army of firefighters from throughout Marin County to respond.
“It’s holding approximately 67 hundred gallons of fuel,” Fire Capt. Bob de Lambert told KPIX 5. “It’s been contained within the vessel itself, which is a blessing on our side.”
Officials believe at least a couple hundred gallons of fuel seeped out of the wreck, and crews immediately began laying out plastic tarps downstream to create dams to capture and contain the spilled gas. State wildlife officials say most of it will evaporate, but it’s possible some residual chemicals could still exist when the rains begin falling.
“Once the situation is stabilized, we’ll be able to establish cleanup end points so basically it’s a standard to where we want the spill to be cleaned up to,” said Mia Roberts, an environmental scientist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Meanwhile, back up on the road, another gas truck arrived and hoses were attached to begin siphoning all the fuel from the overturned tanker. Then came the delicate process of pulling the whole thing back up onto the road–an operation they say can take hours.
“It’s technical from a wrecker’s position of having to remove a large vehicle like that,” said Capt. de Lambert. “And then the hazards don’t end until we all go home safely.”
Fish and Game said once the wreck was removed they’ll have to figure out how much was actually spilled and how feasible it is to remove any of the contaminated dirt. Lucas Valley Road would remain closed until the operation was completed. No word yet from CHP about whether the truck driver will be cited for the accident.