POLSON – The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a Billings trucking company to clean up the site near Flathead Lake where a tanker truck overturned and spilled almost 6,400 gallons of gasoline.
A news release issued late Thursday by the EPA’s Denver office said recent samplings show that petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene and toluene, have migrated into the lake.
The tanker, owned by Keller Transport, overturned April 2 and spilled 6,380 gallons of fuel on Montana 35, forcing five families who lived nearby from their lakeshore homes.
“EPA is issuing this order to ensure that Keller Transport follows through and cleans up the contamination associated with this spill,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s assistant regional administrator in Denver.
The order signals that the EPA has taken over jurisdiction of the cleanup — a development the state and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes had hoped for more than a month ago.
Keller Transport must provide the EPA with a work plan within 25 days outlining future cleanup actions and providing a schedule for their completion.
Meanwhile, several public meetings have been set to discuss heavy truck traffic on the narrow highway.
Some residents on the east shore of the lake want traffic to be diverted to the wider U.S. Highway 93. But representatives of the trucking industry say they’ll oppose any efforts to impose limits on Montana 35 because it would obstruct interstate commerce.
The meetings will be held June 4 in Kalispell and June 5 in Polson.
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