A rollover involving an eastbound semi-trailer unit on Thursday night resulted in minor injuries for the driver and a small oil leak that was quickly contained.
Fire Chief Dale Feser said the fire department, along with the Estevan RCMP and Emergency Medical Services, were called to the rollover just after 10 p.m. The incident occurred just east of the Roche Percee valley along Highway 39.
Initial reports were that the driver wasn’t trapped, but the semi unit was carrying hazardous materials, which proved to be about 36 cubic metres of sweet crude oil.
The semi-trailer was found in the south ditch, about 50 feet from the highway.
“We did an assessment immediately of the leaks that had occurred as a result of the collision. After doing our quick assessment and isolating the vehicle from any other ignition services, we were able to talk to the driver and cross-reference,” said Feser.
After determining that it was oil on board, mitigation of the leaks began.
“The crews were able to slow, however, not stop the leak, and in co-ordinated efforts with the trucking company, we were able to get another highway transport truck to come in to offload the materials on board that hadn’t spilled,” he said.
Feser called it a very well-run response in terms of collaborative efforts with the trucking company.
“We had to wait for specialized individuals to arrive from Williston (N.D.) on scene,” said Feser.
Environmental damage was minimal. About 100 litres of oil leaked from the truck, with approximately 20 litres spilling onto the ground before the fire department arrived. All of the oil that was leaked was able to be captured.
Traffic impacts were minimal, he said. Traffic was reduced to one lane, but was able to proceed without rerouting, except for a brief period of time Friday morning, when recovery crews with the towing companies arrived on scene to try to remove the semi-trailer unit.
Detours were in place for about five minutes for lighter vehicles, while commercial vehicles remained on Highway 39.
“By and large, I think all of the motorists co-operated quite readily with us as well, because they were reducing their speed and observing a safe work zone for all of the emergency responders that were working on scene,” said Feser.
The driver, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to hospital via ambulance, treated for those injuries, and released. The fire chief was surprised to see the driver wasn’t more seriously hurt considering the extent of the damage to the semi-trailer.
Feser noted the fire department didn’t return to Estevan until about 7:40 a.m. Friday morning. The time needed to offload the sweet crude oil from the overturned truck was the biggest reason for the response time.
“We had to make sure that the specialist for the company was on-site as well, and he was bringing a specialized fitting … that they can … safely displace the crude oil from one tankard to another,” said Feser.