When most people hear the words “trucking accident,” images of fiery collisions involving an 18 wheeler and a crumpled passenger vehicle immediately spring to mind. However, there are other ways people can be harmed as a result of a trucking accident.
For example, on April 2, 2008 in Montana, a tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned on Highway 35, spilling 6,380 gallons of gasoline. Reportedly, the driver stated that he saw the passenger side rear wheels of his second tanker drift off the highway. The tractor and first tanker did not fall, but the rear tanker overturned. The top of the tanker was torn off in the accident resulting in the massive fuel spill. For over a year, five families were forced to leave their homes as a result of the accident. The effort to clean up is still ongoing and, reportedly, the spill’s associated cleanup costs have already reached $5 million.
Because of the fumes, five homes had to be evacuated and air abatement systems had to be installed. In addition, contaminated soil needed to be removed, contaminated groundwater had to be collected via the construction of a trench, and the groundwater still requires treatment with a permanent water treatment system. Recent test wells indicate high levels of contamination remain in the pathway of the main spill.
After five years, Keller Transport, the trucking company responsible for the truck, has agreed to settle Clean Water Act claims. According to the settlement, Keller Transport will pay a total of $83,500 in penalties. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Denver enforcement director, Mike Gaydosh, “Truck accidents can have a significant impact on the environment and in this case caused a threat to public health. This penalty serves as a strong reminder that every effort must be taken to avoid accidents and spills when hauling hazardous materials.”
According to the EPA, excessive cornering speed on the narrow highway was determined to be the cause of the accident. This accident, along with several others, motivated some residents to attempt to increase highway safety by requesting a ban on commercial truck traffic which would then be re-routed to the wider Highway 93. Truckers, however, opposed the ban because they can save time and money by using the flatter Highway 35.