Assessment under way following U.S. 12 diesel spill

Environmental remediation experts traveled to north-central Idaho this week to assess the impact of a Wednesday (Sept. 29) diesel spill on U.S. 12 and begin cleanup efforts.

A westbound tanker truck and pup trailer, operated by Keller Transport, left the highway and overturned about 27 miles west of Powell and 136 miles east of Lewiston. An estimated 8,000 gallons of diesel spilled from the tanks.

The trailers came to rest in a ditch on the north side of the highway. Officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) were concerned the diesel might seep under the roadbed and possibly reach the Lochsa River south of the highway.

As of Thursday afternoon, diesel fuel had migrated under the highway but had not reached the river. District 2 maintenance manager Mike Ponozo said a segment of the highway and roadbed will be removed and replaced because of the spill, ITD will monitor highway repairs and traffic flow. One lane of traffic, controlled by flaggers, will be maintained during the repairs.

No schedule had been determined for removal of contaminated material or repairs to the highway.

Tetra Tech, an environmental consulting firm based in California, is conducting the assessment. Incident responders included ITD, Idaho State Police, the U.S. Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, DEQ and EPA.

The transport company’s insurance carrier is responsible for cleanup and repairs.

Published 10-1-2010