Fuel spill on causeway gets quick cleanup, no construction delay

Apr 5, 2017

A delivery truck spilled diesel fuel while supplying construction workers on the Padanaram Causeway, leading to a 100- to 200-gallon fuel spill on April 5. Officials said, however, that the mess was quickly contained and cleaned.

After noticing the broken pipe valve, the driver hit the emergency shutoff, but due to the damage, the leak didn't stop, said officials. The driver quickly backed up — stopping closer to the Smith Neck-Gulf roads intersection — to where the spill could be safely contained, officials said.

"With all the rain we got, the truck actually bottomed out. The back of the truck hit a steel plate, which knocked it loose," said District No. 1 Fire Chief Brad Ellis, who was on scene.

There, workers were able to dam and dike the spill with crushed stone and sand, preventing it from further flowing into the ocean, explained Ellis.

"Rocchio Corporation did a great job protecting our bay," said Ellis. The Smithfield-based company is the general contractor for the $8.2 million causeway rehabilitation project.

Fire District No. 1 and No. 2 responded with absorbent booms to pull any contaminants out of the water. The booms look like very long socks, but they only pick up hydrocarbons such oil, explained Ellis. The fire districts deployed about 279 cubic feet of absorbent material around the construction site.

"It's been pushed out between the stone wall and construction area just so [no fuel] would spill out," said Ellis.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Dartmouth harbormaster were all on hand to check for water contamination and environmental damage. Officials found only a slight sheen on the water.

Clean Harbors — a Massachusetts-based hazardous waste management company — vacuumed up contaminants, Ellis said, adding that it helped that most of the fuel was pooled in two spots on the causeway. He said the cleanup will be done by the end of the day.

"This will not impact what they're doing. They prevented a larger disaster from happening," said Ellis.

The diesel fuel was delivered to supply the construction equipment, including excavators, said Ellis.