Hwy. 26 fuel spill cleanup cost tops $1 million

Temporary lane being built after 5,000-gallon spill

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. -  Crews working to clean up a 5,000-gallon fuel tanker spill will construct a temporary lane around the site on Highway 26 on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, ODOT officials said Thursday as the project cost topped $1 million.

A truck driver from Bend escaped serious injury, but about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled last week when a tanker truck struck a bull elk at about milepost 81, on the Warm Springs reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.

As a consequence, motorists can expect slowdowns and short delays on the busy highway, as crews control traffic by flagging alternating directions onto the temporary lane. 

This temporary lane is expected to be in place this coming weekend (Oct. 5/6). ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy told NewsChannel 21 a cost estimate is not yet available but it will "certainly be" over $1 million.

The crash occurred Tuesday, Sept. 24 shortly after 9 p.m. when a fuel tanker truck collided with an elk and crashed onto the westbound lane shoulder.

Intensive excavation and fuel removal work has been underway since then to recover the spilled fuel (approximately 3,500 gallons of gasoline and 1,500 gallons of diesel) ahead of restoration.

Detectors identified some contamination under the highway, requiring removal of the asphalt surface and additional excavation. This requires moving traffic onto the temporary alignment while removal and restoration are underway.

Cleanup efforts are being carried out by SMAF Environmental, under supervision by managers from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, with assistance from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The temporary lane and highway restoration efforts are expected to continue until the end of October.

Motorists are urged to drive carefully along this stretch of Highway 26.

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