By John Anderson
Tractor-trailer accidents can be a nightmare for first responders, and if an automobile is involved, it usually doesn’t fare too well. Such was the case yesterday afternoon when a single motor vehicle was involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer carrying 7,500 gallons of diesel fuel in the westbound lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike. During the accident, the tuck flipped onto its top and landed in a gully next to the road.
The Auburn Fire-Rescue Department got the call at 3:24pm and immediately responded with an ambulance and engine. The truck’s position was across from the Sears retail store and over an asphalt drainage channel that runs parallel to the highway. The driver of the car was transported to UMass Medical Center University Campus with non-life threatening injuries while the truck driver was not transported by ambulance.
Although a tanker trailer has numerous compartments in the large vessel, many were breached by the forces of the crash. The first arriving fire officer estimated the tanker was losing about 20 gallons per minute. Fortunately, all the compartments contained diesel fuel which is combustible and not flammable like gasoline.
The fire department called in all available personnel and sent the heavy rescue to the scene. Trucks of sand were also requested from the Auburn DPW and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to dam up the fuel stream that was heading towards the Auburn Water Districts’s wells on Church St. Firefighters and DOT workers deployed absorbent booms downhill from the accident, and it appears no wells were contaminated.
The Fire-Rescue Dept. estimates that 3,750 gallons were spilled during the incident, and crews remained on the scene last night. The Auburn Water District and the Department of Environmental Protection were notified and responded along with the Pike’s contract heavy towing service, Ted’s of Fayville, Inc.
The asphalt drainage gully did a dual job yesterday as rains complicated the situation. Although the total clean up will take days, the gully did a great job of containing the liquids and preventing absorption into the soil. Without its presence, a lot of fuel could have ended up in the mall parking lot. That would have been another bad situation.