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Valley safety forces face fuel spill, fire, crashes



Published: Wed, February 15, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

STAFF REPORT

news@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

It was a perfect storm Tuesday for safety crews in the city.

  Flipped Tanker Truck

It was a perfect storm for city safety crews.
A tanker truck carrying fuel overturned Tuesday afternoon  on  the state Route 711 connector on-ramp from Interstate 680, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel into the city’s sewer system and closing both highways during Tuesday’s rush hour.

It was a perfect storm for city safety crews. A tanker truck carrying fuel overturned Tuesday afternoon on the state Route 711 connector on-ramp from Interstate 680, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel into the city’s sewer system and closing both highways during Tuesday’s rush hour.

A tanker truck carrying diesel fuel overturned about 1 p.m. on the state Route 711 connector on-ramp from Interstate 680, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel into the city’s sewer system and closing both highways during Tuesday’s rush hour.

While I-680 and the ramps from Interstate 80 to I-680 southbound and from state Route 11 to I-680 southbound reopened about 10 p.m. Tuesday, the I-680 southbound ramp to Route 11 northbound and the Route 711 southbound ramp to I-680 southbound will remain closed at least through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4.

After being cut from the vehicle around 2:15 p.m., the driver was taken to a hospital, and he was in stable condition Tuesday night.

The diesel fuel spilled from a puncture in the tank and flowed downhill around the 711 on-ramp into a sewage drain. The Mahoning County HazMat team arrived to control the leaking.

Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. said that a truck from Lyden Oil came in and pumped out 6,000 of the 8,000 gallons from the truck.

A few years ago when a tanker truck crashed in the same area of roadway, all 8,000 gallons were spilled.

By about 10 p.m., the fire department was still getting calls from residents near Salt Springs Road who smelled gas. The department was checking those reports, but only one, on Argo Street, showed a

dangerous level.

At the time of Tuesday’s accident Youngstown’s public-works department didn’t take any chances and poured thousands of gallons of water into the spilled diesel fuel to dilute any that entered the city’s sewer system, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the public works department.

“We flushed it downstream” of the Salt Springs Road and the Division Street area, he said.

Shortly after the accident, flames were spotted at a Division Street house but were quickly extinguished.

Battalion Capt. Fred DeLuca said the basement of the home, which was directly below the accident, had filled with fumes.

Adding to the mayhem was a 3 p.m. two-car crash on the corner of Rayen and Fifth avenues, which sent two women to the hospital — one in critical condition, police said. First responders, including some from Austintown, were on the scene of that accident.

MANY PRECAUTIONS

Crews had little time to rest.

For several hours Tuesday afternoon, firefighters, police officers and Mahoning County deputy sheriffs went door-to-door in the West Side neighborhoods near Division Street, warning residents about the possibility of fuel in the sewer.

“It’s going to be a long night,” one firefighter said.

Well into the evening, Youngstown firefighters continued opening fire hydrants, working west to east downtown on Federal Street. Trucks cordoned off blocks as the streets flooded with hydrant water. DeLuca said downtown buildings were filling with diesel fumes.

Clark Jones, director of Mahoning County’s Emergency Management Agency, said people were advised to evacuate along Division Street, Waverly Avenue and surrounding streets, but many were reluctant to do so.

Some likely don’t want to leave their pets, he said.

Chaney High School was set up as a temporary shelter for those who needed it, with the American Red Cross offering assistance. But O’Neill said when no one arrived at the school by 9 p.m., he shut it down. The Red Cross will be able to help people who need shelter on an individual basis.

Because some of the diesel fuel from the 8,000-gallon tanker spilled into the Mahoning River, booms were placed in the water to try to contain it, Jones said.

Because diesel is lighter than water, it floats on the surface and the booms are used to keep it from moving downstream.

Raymond Beiersdorfer, a professor of geological and environmental sciences at Youngstown State University, said diesel is considered toxic because it causes cell damage.

“Studies done with mice where the mice drink the diesel-Contaminated water show that it’s toxic at very low concentrations,” he said.

Studies have also found that diesel-contaminated water kills plankton living in it, the professor said.

At the accident scene, wreckers were used to right the truck so it could be moved out of the area, and Sun Pro of Akron was called in to handle cleanup of the roadway.

Councilman Michael Ray, D-4th, said residents he spoke with were happy with the response, and he thought there was good collaboration among city police, Mahoning County HazMat and others who responded to the scene.

NEIGHBORS WORRY

Karen McCoy moved to an Austintown apartment about two years ago, leaving her home on Elberen Street empty. She came back to Elberen on Tuesday to visit neighbors and was surprised by what she found.

“They’re advising people who have gas in their homes to shut off the pilot light,” she said, adding that it was a struggle to get to the

neighborhood with the road closures.

McCoy said she was taking her former neighbors to her Austintown apartment to spend the night.

A few streets nearby, Marcy Dickey was receiving similar instructions.

“We were told to shut off the pilot light, open the upstairs windows and mainly keep the air flowing. We have to watch for the smell of gas,” Dickey said.

Dickey stood on her lawn talking to her neighbor, Sam Vittorio.

Vittorio said he wasn’t bothered by the precautions or road closures, but that “every couple of years there’s a bad accident there.”

He’s right: In 2010, a motorist clipped a pole and kicked it down on I-680 near the southbound 711 entrance. A few months later, an overturned truck dumped debris on I-680.

In 2009, a man was ejected from his truck at the interchange and in 2007, a man was killed in a two-car head-on crash on 711 near the I-680 ramp.

SIMILAR MESS

And on March 29, 2006, a nearly identical fuel spill occurred at the interchange. Then, the gasoline did get into the sewer system, forcing the evacuation of houses of Randolph and Division street area and of Amedia Plaza and other downtown premises, according to

Vindicator files.

The interchange ramp was closed for nine days for cleanup after 8,500 gallons of gasoline was spilled.

That truck was operated by Wolf’s Run Transport, which eventually paid $12,250 total to the Mahoning and Trumbull county Hazmat teams to pay for the cleanup work. Wolf’s Run’s insurance company paid $50,000 to Youngstown to pay for police overtime and other city services from the fire, water and street departments.

Though the costs of Tuesday’s wreck aren’t yet known, Jones said HazMat, the city and any other agencies that responded to the scene can bill the company, Sines Inc. of Painesville.

“The clock started ticking on the company’s expense account when the accident happened,” he said.

O’Neill said that in 2006, Wolf’s Run was charged for water used in hydrant flushing.

Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Justin Chesnic said he was not sure if ODOT posted any additional warning signs for the sharp curve after that accident.

Chesnic said in general the interchange “is not a problem area for crashes.”

This year, ODOT made an agreement with Youngstown to clear that portion of 711 of snow and ice, Chesnic said.

Although it snowed Tuesday, Chesnic said he was told by safety officials that the crash, which trapped the truck driver inside the cabin for more than an hour, was not weather-related.

Contributors: Staff writers Ashley Luthern, Denise Dick, Robert Guttersohn and David Skolnick


Comments

1Superstar7(122 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Trucks:
50 MPH on ALL Ohio highways.
20 MPH on ramps.
If the law is ignored, take their license & fine them 5 years pay & a share of the expenses for damages generated.
More frequent drug & alcohol testing.
Less miles per day.
ALL additional expenses subsidized by the $60,000-$70,000 salaries of truckers & by the companies.
These problems can be reduced if we are serious.

Suggest removal:

2ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Superstar you have no freaking idea what you are talking about. Your comment just proved your astounding ignorance.

Suggest removal:

3ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

So Vindy reporters, was it diesel fuel or was it gasolie that spilled? You say it was diesel, but if so how are people getting the smell of gas in their basements?

Beirsdorfer thinks all petroleum based products are harmful. There are many people who have been doused with diesel fuel and even ingested it and lived to tell about it with no long term damage.

Suggest removal:

4misterlee(118 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Steelman,
If you don't think diesel's dangerous, try drinking some and get back to us with your findings. I want scientific data like Beiersdorfer uses, not your stories.

Suggest removal:

5republicanRick(1250 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

See folks, there is some downside to every fuel we would ever use. Accidents are part of life.

You cannot eliminate every downside of fracking either. So drill, drill and let's make this area a prosperous one again.

Suggest removal:

6lee(544 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Steelman is right I have used diesel to clean parts for years and will continue to do so.

Suggest removal:

7legend33(169 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Dare goes da gas prices in y-town!

Suggest removal:

8danikytn(248 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

the 711 interchange is just a bad design, whether your coming or going, especially in the winter tmie heading down that awful steep hill with 3 lights

Suggest removal:

9DwightK(1304 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

You have to slow down on exit and entrance ramps. Once the center of gravity shifts nothing on earth will keep your vehicle upright.

Suggest removal:

10redeye1(4709 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Once again there is Stop with his IDIOTIC thoughts, spewing them out anytime he can. I 'll bet you are low life living off the Gov't. LNW I agree with you, there are people who don't have clue ,but think they know it all.

Suggest removal:

11marmar731(1 comment)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

All,
As someone who travels the highways of Northeast Ohio on a daily basis, I think the real issue here is speed. Drivers of every type of vehicle on the road are careless and not paying attention to the road in front of them. Police enforcing the posted speed limit are non-existent on 680, especially within Youngstown city limits.
Most trucks share the road responsibly and politely. The bottom line is PUT DOWN YOUR DAMNED PHONE AND SLOW DOWN! Plus, you'll be saving gas.

Suggest removal:

12snydro0108(61 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

These forums are so funny sometimes. 50 MPH on all...blah blah blah. The real story here is why did YFD lower booms into the Mahoning River to gather fuel before it spread throughout the river, but will clean it up "at a later date". How about cleaning it up NOW? We don't have too much plankton to worry about in our water supplies around here, so what, just let it sit there until "a later date?" Two things are important here. One trucker doesn't make them ALL bad truckers, but in this particular case, speed was an obvious factor. Due to that speed and this PARTICULAR driver, something bad happened. Two, if you are going to be cleaning it up, then CLEAN IT ALL UP and that should include the river!!

Suggest removal:


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