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Trucking Company to Clean Up Small Spill on Elliott Highway From Oct. 17 Tanker Wreck

State environmental regulators have directed Carlile Transportation Systems to submit a cleanup plan for a small diesel-fuel spill that occurred after a Carlile tanker truck out of Fairbanks wrecked Oct. 17 on the Elliott Highway.

DEC Environmental Program Specialist Ashley Adamczak says agency officials wasn’t notified about the Oct. 17 wreck of a tanker truck around milepost 39 of the Elliott Highway until they got some rough information later that day from the state Department of Transportation’s Commercial Vehicle and Enforcement Division.

The Carlile tanker wrecked Oct. 17 at a point about 39 miles north of Fox on the Elliott Highway.
Credit Google maps

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“Upon further investigation, we determined it was a Carlile tanker that was upside down and off of the road,” she said.

Adamczak says DEC hadn’t at that time received any reports about a diesel-fuel leak. She says the agency then reached out to Carlile and asked whether the company needed additional resources to help recover the wrecked tanker.

“The Carlile point of contact reported that no spill had been reported to them,” she said, “and that no additional resources were needed.”

Adamczak says bad weather kept DEC from sending personnel to the site about 40 miles north of Fox until Oct. 20, three days after the wreck. She says they found diesel on state-owned land around the site where the tanker had overturned and that by then the rig had been removed. “We did observe that there was diesel fuel right near a small stream and in the soil,” she added.

Adamczak says DEC again contacted Carlile officials, who conceded the wrecked tanker had leaked some diesel. She says the company then sent a response team to the site.

Adamczak says DEC personnel who went to the site weren’t able to determine the amount of fuel spilled, because the area had by then been covered with snow.

“At this time, we believe the release is somewhere between 30 and 50 gallons,” she said. “Thirty is what Carlile has reported, but it’s pretty hard to tell, especially with the snowpack.”

Adamczak says regulations require spills of more than 55 gallons of petroleum products to be immediately reported to DEC. She says smaller releases of 30 gallons must be reported within 48 hours.

Carlile's statement says the company notified DEC in 'a timely manner. And will continue to work with the agency on any additional cleanup requirements.'

Carlile officials released a statement Tuesday in response to queries by KUAC that says none of the diesel in the tanker was released. It said instead a small amount of diesel leaked from the fuel tank of the truck itself. The statement says Carlile notified DEC in “a timely manner. And will continue to work with the agency on any additional cleanup requirements.”

Adamczak says it appears at least some of the fuel soaked into the roadbed around the wreck site. She says if so, Carlile will have to remove in in two phases. She says fuel that’s soaked into soil outside the roadbed could be excavated now. But she says removing fuel-contaminated material from the roadbed itself will have to wait until summer, because it’s hard to refill and compact material into an excavated roadbed during winter.

“We want to make sure we do that removal at a time that is approved with the DOT engineering staff,” she said. “(And) That we don’t compromise the integrity of the roadway.”

Adamczak says DEC has directed Carlile to submit a work plan on how it will carry out both the winter and summer cleanup operations. And she says DEC will oversee their work.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.