published Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Bledsoe diesel spill

PAILO, Tenn. — An environmental cleanup crew is soaking up the remains of a 200-gallon diesel spill that happened in Bledsoe County when a tractor-trailer flipped over on a hairpin curve.

  • photo
    Jeb Barrett of Marion Environmental works to contain a spill of diesel fuel Wednesday after a truck wreck on McWilliams Road on Tuesday in southern Bledsoe County.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bledsoe County 911 dispatcher Patricia Edmons said the call came in about 11:50 a.m. CST Tuesday and emergency management and rescue crews were sent to the scene.

The accident was turned over to state troopers and McWilliams Road was closed while crews righted the tractor-trailer, she said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials were unable to provide a report or any details about the accident Wednesday afternoon, but environmental crews were on the scene Wednesday cleaning up the mess, located less than a mile from the Sequatchie River.

The spill is not believed to pose any danger to nearby residents or local water supplies, said Jeb Barrett, geologist with Chattanooga-based Marion Environmental Inc., which was called to the scene by the trucking company’s insurance carrier.

He said the insurance company is covering the cost of the cleanup, but he did not identify the company.

Barrett said a big rig hauling about 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel overturned as it climbed a steep hill on McWilliams Road just north of the county line.

A huge impression of the tanker remains on the roadside where the fuel-laden trailer landed on the edge of a 100-foot-deep ravine.

“They recovered all but about 200 gallons of off-road diesel,” he said, adding that the truck was hauling a variety of grades of diesel.

Barrett said the accident could have been far worse if the tanker had burst open and lost all 7,000 gallons or if the fuel spill had been gasoline rather than diesel.

“Diesel doesn’t have all the cancer-causing agents that gasoline does; they were lucky,” he said.

Marion Environmental supervisor Bill Seavey said he believes most of the spill was contained to the upper portion of the small ravine.

But some had reached the bottom near a residential driveway.

Crews will keep mopping up the area with “boom,” rolls of material used to absorb and contain petroleum spills. Marion Environmental will send soil samples to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for testing, he said.

Barrett said crew members probably will continue working at the site for the next couple of days and, if the soil in the ravine is contaminated, some excavation work could be needed.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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