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Hwy. 26 cleanup continues; fuel spill estimate rises

By Barney Lerten
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:38:25 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 27 2013 06:35:47 PM CDT
Hwy 26 fuel spill Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy/ODOT

Crews dug about 20 feet down to the water table Thursday to be sure a diesel fuel spill along Hwy. 26 north of Warm Springs didn't contaminate area

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. -

The cleanup from a fuel tanker crash and spill along Highway 26 on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation will continue through the weekend, reducing traffic to one lane, an ODOT spokesman said Friday as the estimate of fuel spilled rose to 5,000 gallons.

About 3,500 gallons of diesel and 1,500 gallons of gasoline spilled in the rollover crash that occurred Tuesday night with a fuel tanker truck hit a bull elk and overturned, said ODOT Region 4 spokesman Peter Murphy

One lane of the highway remains closed Thursday, with a flagger letting traffic through in each direction, during the extensive cleanup work.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday,  a 2014 Kenworth truck pulling a tanker trailer driven by Kyle Taber, 31, of Bend, was eastbound on Highway 26 near milepost 81 when it struck a bull elk on the highway, Oregon State Police said.

Taber lost control as the truck and tanker trailer crossed into the westbound lane and rolled onto its side, sliding about 400 feet before coming to rest in trees bordering the north side of the highway, troopers reported.

Taber was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released from St. Charles-Madras Wednesday.

Two OSP troopers responded to the scene to assist Warm Springs police.

Taber was driving for Central Petro Inc, out of Bend.

Oregon Regional HazMat Team 3 responded to the scene to coordinate cleanup efforts with ODOT and fire personnel.

SMAF Environmental crews were called out and the EPA also was on scene, Murphy said.

The fuel spilled onto "swampy" land near Beaver Creek along the highway, Murphy said Thursday.

Cleanup began early Wednesday morning, after the truck was removed and other fuel drained. Murphy said about 500 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed Wednesday and another 1,000 cubic yards was slated for removal Thursday.

Fortunately, he said, "the snowmelt, runoff, water table is low at this time of year, so the fuel hasn't reached the creek."

"But we have to move pretty quickly to get the fuel out, so that when rain and snow do come, we have eliminated the chance for further contamination," Murphy said.

The hole was at least 20 feet deep by Thursday, he said, as crews dug down to the water table to test and assure no contamination.  Murphy said the northbound lane was closed due to the work, but despite a construction project farther south, delays were not too lengthy.

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