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Diesel On The Highway

Among the many environmental solutions we provide is Emergency Response. Just recently, we were called to the scene of an accident involving an 18-wheeler tractor trailer which overturned, spilling its just-filled tanks of diesel alongside the highway, which impacted the soil, nearby trees and bushes as well as a tributary to a river nearby. It was about 8:00 pm. Local fire departments and EMA were on the scene already with portable, emergency lighting to allow visibility in the dark. The 18-wheeler driver had already been taken by ambulance to a local hospital. An ADEM Emergency Response Division representative arrived at the scene and met with our Technical Director and requested a scenario of how the spill would be stabilized, the environmental impact controlled, how the spilled diesel fuel would be managed for disposal and the project completed.

Most people have no idea what is involved when such an accident occurs. In this case, we were fortunate to know immediately what material was spilled. (In some cases, when the contents of the trailer are spilled, we must consult the DOT shipping manifest or bills of lading to determine if any contents are EPA regulated or dangerous to the environment.) The Coosa River was nearby, so it was paramount that we stop the flow of diesel before it reached the water source. This was accomplished through the use of hydrophobic absorbents placed strategically around the spill and diked soil.

In the meantime, our technicians immediately began excavation of the contaminated soil. Diesel fuel was actually spewed into nearby trees when the fuel tank ruptured. The local fire department assisted in taking down the affected trees and cutting them into manageable sizes to fit it into the roll-off box for transport. This work continued until about 3:00 am until the spill was stabilized. Our technicians used oil dry and cement dust to lock up the remaining diesel fuel on the highway so that it could be reopened for traffic. Heavy equipment was used to fill the roll-off boxes and they were transported to our facility to await profile approval through ADEM into a Subtitle D landfill approved to handle this type of waste. No analytical is required for diesel contaminated soil. At this point, the crew knocked off for some much needed rest so they could return the following morning to complete the project.

Our crew arrived the next morning at approximately 8:00 to finish the project. Carefully checking for any additional areas that might have been missed and finding none, the crew began “rebuilding”. Top soil was brought in to fill the large holes created from excavation. Using heavy equipment and manpower, technicians smoothed and leveled the soil in preparation of seeding the area. It was then covered in straw so that grass can once again grace the side of the highway.

It was not easy work, but it was gratifying work. We aren’t super hearoes, but we keep the world safe in our own special way!

-Your friends of the environment.

Safeway Industrial Services

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