Month-long Hwy. 26 fuel spill clean-up complete

Paving will return two-way traffic Friday

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - Crews have completed a month-long effort to clean up a 5,000-gallon fuel tanker spill following a rollover tanker crash on Highway 26 on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, ODOT officials said Wednesday. 

Workers will be paving the highway on Thursday, ahead of the return to two-lane traffic in the vicinity of milepost 81, the agency said.

On Friday, both lanes of the highway will be back open after paving and striping is finished. 

The crash occurred the night of Tuesday, Sept. 23 when a fuel tanker truck collided with an elk and crashed onto the westbound lane shoulder.

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

Tribal, state DEQ, federal EPA  and private agencies, including SMAF Environmental, "have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this cleanup," an ODOT statement said.

 Ground water monitoring will be put in place for at least a year.

 But the work is not quite done. More restoration activities are expected to continue on and near the shoulders of the highway at this location until the end of November. Traffic control will remain in place intermittently during, this time and drivers are urged to proceed with caution.

ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said a week into the project that the estimated cost had topped $1 million. He said Thursday the total tab has not been released, but the cost is being covered by the fuel company's insurance.

As for the removed soil, Murphy said it has been determined to be non-hazardous and is being put into a Crook County landfill.

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