One lane of Montana 35 remained closed Thursday and crews were removing contaminated soil where a tanker overturned and spilled an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of gasoline.
“Right now we’re just trying to get a feel for how far the contamination runs in both directions,” said Stephen Stanley, coordinator of the Lake County Office of Emergency Services.
Wednesday’s afternoon wreck closed the highway for almost six hours. It was reopened to one lane at about 8:30 p.m. and could remain partially closed for up to two weeks, authorities said.
No gasoline has been found west of the highway or in Flathead Lake, Stanley said. But booms already have been placed on the water should the fuel seep through the surrounding soil.
Cleanup crews dug interception trenches along the west, or lake, side of the highway before moving to the east side where the tanker spilled.
“Worst-case scenario, we’ll have to tear out the whole road,” said Don May of Tetra Tech, a cleanup crew dispatched from Missoula. “We don’t know where the fuel is yet.”
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, the tanker truck was traveling northbound when the trailer drifted off the right side of the road and caused the entire rig to overturn. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
Trooper James Sanderson said the tanker is owned by Keller Transport of Billings, and the driver refused medical treatment. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
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