Part of I-95 Closed Until Saturday After Gasoline Spill
Posted March 16, 2007 10:39 a.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2007 7:24 p.m. EDT
Saint Pauls, N.C. — Part of Interstate 95 near Fayetteville will remain closed until at least mid-morning Saturday after a fuel tanker carrying gasoline overturned Friday morning, spilling about 8,700 gallons of fuel into a nearby swamp.
The accident happened at about 9 a.m. when the truck ran off the road north of St. Pauls into Little Marsh Swamp near the Robeson-Cumberland county line, authorities said.
"The driver experienced some health problems, and he blacked out," said Sgt. Joel Stiles of the North Carolina Highway Patrol. "(He has) no recollection of the crash itself."
The driver of the truck, Clifford Julian Sandoval, 41, of Wilson, was recently diagnosed with diabetes, authorities said.
Sandoval was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton and then transported to Duke University Hospital to be treated for a cracked sternum.
Firefighters used a chemical foam on the truck to keep it from catching fire, emergency officials said.
Hazmat crews put containment booms around the spill and used foam pads to soak up the fuel on the ground and in the swamp.
"Some people are going downstream, surveying the creek to get a good idea of how far out (the spill) is," said Ben Major of the Fayetteville Fire Department.
Four tanker trucks arrived at the scene Friday afternoon to begin pumping fuel from the swamp.
Both northbound and southbound lanes were completely shut down at mile markers 33-34 south of Fayetteville for part of the day, and at one point, backups were reported for about eight miles.
Northbound lanes reopened late Friday afternoon.
Drivers tried to make the best of the situation. A cheerleading squad practiced moves in the empty northbound lanes of I-95, and driver Elisa Wright said she pulled out some work to keep her busy.
"Fortunately, I was able to get some work done," Wright said.
State transportation officials urged motorists to avoid the area if possible and were rerouting southbound vehicles to the following detour:
- Take exit 41. At the top of the ramp, turn right onto N.C. 59 until U.S. 301. Take a right onto U.S. 301 south and follow this back to soundbound I-95 at exit 33.
According to the Highway Patrol, the fuel tanker that crashed is owned by Reliable Tank Lines based out of Winston-Salem.
Charges are pending in the wreck, authorities said.