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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Tanker truck carrying fuel overturns

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CANTON — About 2,300 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from a tanker truck that overturned in a roadside ditch Monday off Route 68 in the town of Canton.

The force of the rollover ruptured a 3,000-gallon compartment of diesel fuel near the front of the tanker, which leaked for two hours after the 12:15 p.m. incident, according to Canton Fire Chief Robert M. Crowe.

The tanker was carrying a total of 9,500 gallons of fuel, including diesel, kerosene and gasoline. The other compartments of fuel were undamaged, although a nominal amount of gasoline also leaked, Mr. Crowe said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Op-Tech Environmental Services of Massena set up a work zone Monday night to excavate contaminated soil after the remaining fuel was pumped from the tanker and the truck was safely lifted up about 8 p.m.

Mr. Crowe said the excavation work was expected to be finished this morning after DEC officials inspect the area.

Driver Wayne M. Robillard, 57, Edwards, was eastbound on Route 68 when he unsuccessfully attempted to turn left onto County Route 14, rolling the Kuno Oil Co. Inc. tanker onto its passenger side, according to state police. Mr. Robillard suffered a bruise and cut on the head, but was not treated at a hospital, police said.

Police were investigating the accident; no charges had been filed as of late Monday.

A team of agencies worked all day and into the evening Monday to contain the spill. Shortly after the rollover, the St. Lawrence County Hazardous Materials Team sprayed the area with a blanket of foam to minimize the risk of explosion, Mr. Crowe said. The team also placed wooden wedges inside the tank rupture to slow the leak, which was flowing at about 5 gallons per minute.

Absorbent booms were placed on the ground to absorb some of the spill, and the state Department of Transportation dumped two truckloads of sand to prevent fuel from spreading to culverts.

Once the leak was stopped, Op-Tech workers spent the rest of the day suctioning out the residual fuel from the tanker, Mr. Crowe said. He said all residual fuel had to be removed to prevent a fire when the tanker was righted.

“Safety is the top priority, and we had to drill holes in the side of the tank and make sure everything was done a certain way,” Mr. Crowe said. “That’s why it takes longer to get in there, because we have to eliminate the risk of a spark from static electricity. It’s the flow of the liquid that creates friction and static.”

Mr. Crowe said a work site was being established about 9 p.m. Monday to begin excavating the fuel-soaked ditch. The work zone still could be in place along Route 68 this morning, he said, but it is not expected to delay traffic flow.


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