Southbound Lanes Of I-5 Closed Monday Night For Fuel Spill Cleanup
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Interstate 5 at the Richards Boulevard off-ramp was closed to most traffic Monday night as crews work to clean up the mess left behind from an overturned big rig.
Caltrans crews had their hands full trying to remove ethanol, a highly flammable and dangerous chemical, from the roadway. Their main goal was to avoid an explosion.
Sacramento Fire said the cleanup operation was going according to plan around 8 p.m., but there was still plenty of work to do as they moved the overturned fuel tanker out of the area Monday night.
"This is a highly volatile fuel, basically because it's small confined vapor areas, the ethanol builds up quickly," Sacramento Fire Battalion Chief Greg Powell said.
The big rig overturned early Monday morning, leaking 4,000 gallons of ethanol into the catch basin. Two full tanks remained, leaving close to 3,700 gallons to be drained into another tanker. Powell said if there was just one spark, "we're looking at a 300-foot radius, basically a blast radius. That would cause an absolute hazard to life in the immediate area and damage to the local buildings."
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As a precaution, all lanes of I-5 were closed in both directions and area hotels were evacuated. Some local customers said they understood the precautions.
"I just feel it's safe. If that's what they have to do, that's what they have to do," said Laura Luxford.
"It kind of sucks for some people, but I don't mind it. I'd rather be out of here than be in danger," Andre Frazer said.
To prevent an explosion, grounding wires were attached to the tanker and cab, then planted into the ground. And there were still concerns in the attempt to roll the tanker upright. Powell said those concerns included "oil from the motor itself that has leaked out, battery issues, and then the diesel fuel itself if the tanks are ruptured."
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Ethanol that leaked into the catch basin was pumped out by Patriot Environmental. The water will be tested to make sure no trace amounts leaked into the Sacramento River.
"We notified drinking water locations to not pump out of the river for a short period of time until we confirm no product is in the river," Powell said.
Thankfully, the pipes were cleaned and an environmental disaster averted. A major shut down on I-5 and the driver of this big rig miraculously walked away uninjured.
Caltrans reopened the southbound lanes of I-5 Monday night, just before 11 p.m. The Richards Boulevard off-ramp remained closed.https://twitter.com/CaltransDist3/status/1186520590905004032
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