Hundreds of litres of diesel fuel spilled onto Highway 3, West of Rock Creek, after a semi-truck failed to navigate a bend in the road Wednesday night, Oct. 27.
Mike Daloise, Chief at Midway Fire and Rescue, said 17 firefighters were scrambled to the scene at a “sharp, hairpin turn” known as Bishop’s Corner shortly after 8 p.m. Arriving first responders soon found the truck’s empty trailer lying down a steep embankment below the shoulder of the westbound lane.
The truck’s cab had stayed on an uphill section of the highway after hitting a guard rail, knocking several concrete road barriers down the hill. The truck’s two 375-litre fuel tanks were damaged in the collision, causing a slow leak in one, rupturing the other.
In all, Daloise estimated that 400 litres of diesel spilled across both lanes of the highway.
With both lanes closed to traffic, firefighters applied absorbent material onto the road, using roadside earth to dam the spill. Some of the diesel flowed into a drainage ditch, but none entered a nearby culvert, Daloise continued.
A nearby stretch of the Kettle River was unaffected by the spill, according to a spokesperson at the Ministry of Environment.
Tow truck operators from Osoyoos were called to haul the trailer back onto the road, but Daloise said a heavier tow had to be called in from Grand Forks.
Road crews from the highway contractor Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB) then applied abrasive material to the affected stretch of highway, which reopened to alternating, single-lane traffic at around 12:30 a.m.
Greg McNeil, operations manager at YRB, said it would cost an estimated $5,000 to repair the shoulder where the truck left the road and to replace around 15 barriers lost and damaged in the collision. Temporary road barriers were being installed as of noon Thursday, Oct. 28, at which point McNeil said the affected stretch of highway was safe to drive.
YRB crews finished cleaning up the spill, again using absorbent material to soak up the diesel, according to Daloise and McNeil.
Daloise said the spill posed a relatively minimal fire risk.
The truck’s driver and sole occupant was assessed by BC Emergency Health Services paramedics and released on-scene, having sustained no serious injuries.
Midway RCMP, said to be investigating the collision, were not available for comment when The Gazette published this story online.