Tanker truck crash results in 3,200-gallon gasoline spill

Crash blocks road, affecting traffic and school bus routes

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter


Updated: December 13, 2013, 10:17 PM


Report spills

State law requires that all spills of gasoline and other hazardous materials — regardless of size — be reported to the Washington state Department of Ecology. The agency’s southwest regional office is at 360-407-6300. Those reporting a spill are asked to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 and the Washington Emergency Management Division at 1-800-258-5990 or 1-800-OILS-911; both are available 24 hours a day.

An overturned tanker truck that spilled 3,200 gallons of gasoline shut down a half-mile stretch of Northeast 18th Street in Vancouver Friday, resulting in a massive cleanup effort.

While an investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing, Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said it appeared to have happened after the east-bound truck struck a center-lane median east of Four Seasons Lane. The wheels of one of the truck’s two tankers went up onto the median, then back down onto the road, causing the liquid to slosh and the tanker to roll over.

Authorities have not issued a citation, Kapp said.

And while the crash didn’t cause any injuries, it did close the road to traffic starting at 1:16 a.m. Twenty-five firefighters from the Vancouver Fire Department responded to the crash to ensure vapors from the spilled gasoline didn’t ignite. Crews worked to clean the gas-slicked road until it reopened around 2 p.m., after the site had been completely cleared.

Most of the gas sloshed over the road and into a nearby ditch and storm water system for the Mission Hills Apartments. Containing the spill was a priority for firefighters and representatives from the Washington state Department of Ecology, who came to oversee the clean-up efforts.

“This is a lot of gasoline,” said firefighter Joe Spatz, one of the first responders on the scene. “To have it all in a pool, contained, is one thing. It’s another to have it flowing around.”

By mid-morning, about 700 gallons of oily water had been pumped out of the storm water system.

With so much fuel seeping into the road and ground, there were early concerns that it wouldn’t be contained, though workers were able to clean out the entire site. Even though the gasoline made its way into the system, there likely won’t be any negative health effects for nearby residents or wildlife, said Linda Kent, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Ecology. They started marking the locations of utilities, in preparation for removing contaminated soil.

“One of the first concerns is whether this (sort of spill) will move on and get into any rivers and streams,” she said. “It looks like that wasn’t the case.”

The truck company, Ohio-based Kenan Advantage Group, will be responsible for cleaning the spill, according to the state Department of Ecology. A company representative did not return a message Friday.

While efforts to sop up the gasoline were ongoing Friday morning and afternoon, bus routes to local schools were thrown into disarray. Routes for Evergreen High School, Cascade Middle School, Fircrest Elementary and Endeavour Elementary were rerouted because of the crash and resultant spill.

The district’s transportation director monitored the situation throughout the day, said Gail Spolar, a spokeswoman for Evergreen Public Schools.

After the incident, Clark County Public Health warned about inhaling gas vapors. Although gasoline evaporates quickly, anyone who smells a gas odor should leave the area. Exposure to fumes can cause dizziness and headaches.