Austin
5:07 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

A Big Mess: Cleaning Up After This Morning's Fuel Spill

The frontage road of Interstate 35 between FM 1327 and Slaughter Lane is expected to be closed for much of the day after a fuel spill this morning.

For much of the morning, all northbound lanes of the highway were also closed in the area — causing major traffic delays.

The Austin Fire Department says an estimated 700 gallons of fuel spilled on the roadway when an 18-wheeler overturned, creating a need for careful cleanup that shut the highway through morning rush hour.

But AFD Battalion Chief Palmer Buck says, in years past, the closures would have been even longer because the department would have had to wait for the trucking company to send a cleanup team.

“The Austin Fire Department is one of the few teams that has the equipment and the expertise to do this," Buck says. "A decade ago, we would have had to wait six to eight hours before the operation even started, so we would be talking about sometime this evening before we got the roads open."

The trucking company will be billed for the cleanup and will still have to send a team to take care of final remediation.

“They’re responsible for cleaning up the tainted absorbent as well as any fuel that spilled into the ground," says Buck. "The City of Austin will make them dig up that dirt and haul that dirt off and make sure that we take care of our ecology as well.”

The Austin Fire Department estimates that the full cleanup could take a few more days depending on whether any of the fuel affected water resources in the area.