Army tanker truck wrecks, spills fuel near Harding Lake

Fort Wainwright personnel retrieved the wrecked Army tanker Monday afternoon. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation advised motorists to watch for ongoing cleanup work at the site near milepost 318 of the Richardson Highway. (ADOT&PF photo)

A state Department of Environmental Conservation report issued Tuesday evening says an Army tanker truck that crashed Sunday near Harding Lake leaked 800 gallons of fuel within about 50 feet of a slough that leads into the Tanana River.

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The tanker’s 2,600-gallon tank was carrying 1,150 gallons of JP-8 when the rig slid off the Richardson Highway near milepost 318 at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday. DEC spill program manager Tom DeRuyter says JP-8 is a kerosene-based fuel that the Army uses for both aircraft and vehicles.

“That’s a product that’s very similar to diesel fuel,” DeRuyter said. “It’s what the Army runs in all of their vehicles.”

DeRuyter says Army contractor personnel from Fort Wainwright were working to clean up the spill through Tuesday, with help from DEC and Alaska State Troopers. The wrecked tanker was pulled back to Wainwright Monday afternoon.

A U.S. Army Alaska spokesperson says the tanker was headed back to post from a field training exercise when the accident occurred.

The DEC report raises concern that the leaked fuel could contaminate the Tanana River. A situation report issued by DEC says fuel that leaked from the tanker has contaminated snow and soil. The report says that could flow into the slough and then the Tanana, possibly harming salmon in the river.

Personnel with DEC and an Army contractor are working on a plan to remove contaminated snow and soil, the report said.

An investigation into the crash continues.