North Slope-Bound Tanker Wrecks, Spills 1,200 Gallons of Diesel, Catches Fire

A fuel tanker headed to the North Slope wrecked at a remote spot along the Dalton Highway Sunday and overturned, spilling 1,200 gallons of diesel. The wrecked rig later caught fire and burned up.

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The tanker owned by Fairbanks-based Big State Logistics was headed to a customer on the North Slope Sunday when it slid off the road around milepost 189 of the Dalton, near Wisemen, and overturned around 8:15 p.m.

The fire that burned the wrecked tanker lights up the night. The rig caught fire after Big State Logistics removed the remaining 9,000 gallons of fuel from it. (Credit Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
The fire that burned the wrecked tanker lights up the night. The rig caught fire after Big State Logistics removed the remaining 9,000 gallons of fuel from it.
(Credit Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a news release Monday afternoon stating that the cause of the wreck was unknown and under investigation by the state Transportation Department. And that the driver was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Ashley Adamczak, an environmental specialist with the Fairbanks DEC office, says the tanker’s rear compartment ruptured and spilled about 1,200 gallons of diesel.

Big State Logistics sent personnel Sunday night to recover about 9,000 gallons that was still in the wrecked tanker. That was pumped into another tanker and sent on its way to the North Slope.

Adamczak says at some point after the fuel was removed, the wrecked tractor-trailer caught fire.

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” she said.

Adamczak says investigators with DEC were unable to survey the spill Monday, because of the fire.

“Due to the fact that the fire was still burning, we haven’t been able to get in too close and take a look at it.”

Adamczak couldn’t confirm Monday afternoon whether it had been extinguished.

She says investigators hope to get back into the area soon to survey the spill.

“One of the first priorities will be delineating the area of contamination, which means basically checking the soil for petroleum and seeing how much of an impacted area we have.”

Adamczak says DEC also will have a better estimate on how much of the ultralow-sulfur diesel was spilled once the tanker carrying the remaining load gets to its customer.