Last Updated: Jul 27th, 2014 - 12:40:50


Few health concerns over fuel spill
By staff
Jul 27, 2014, 12:38

CHESTERFIELD -- A fuel spill that shut down traffic on Interstate 95 all day Thursday has not affected the water supply for the area, and residents near the spill shouldn’t experience problems other than possibly a slight odor.

Virginia American Water, which serves Hopewell, Fort Lee and part of Prince George, said the crash occurred upstream of their water intake on the Appomattox River. They have installed a boom at the intake pipe to prevent the fuel from entering the water system. They are also monitoring river water entering the intake.

The company said its storage tanks were full, and they were prepared to respond as needed. They said customers could use water normally.

Water supplies in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Petersburg and part of Prince George were not affected because their water comes from the Appomattox Regional Water Authority, which gets water from Lake Chesdin.

The fuels spill occurred Thursday morning on Interstate 95 South just north of Colonial Heights.

At 6:07 a.m., Virginia State Police Sr. Trooper M.S. Meyer responded to a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of I-95 near the 57 mile marker in Chesterfield County. Police say a Jeep was traveling south when it struck a tanker truck. The tanker truck then ran off the left side of the interstate, struck the Jersey wall and overturned onto its side.

The 2010 Jeep operated by Elijah Dixon, 52, of New Jersey and two passengers were transported to Chippenham Hospital with minor injuries. Police say Dixon was charged with reckless driving.

The driver of the 2013 Peterbilt tractor-trailer, Terry Williams, 42, Carson, was transported to Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

All person involved were wearing seatbelts.

The impact of the crash caused the tank to rupture and Fire and EMS Hazmat crews responded. The tanker was loaded with gasoline, which had to be pumped out of the tank in order to contain the leak.

The truck was carrying approximately 7,500 gallons of gasoline and 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Over the course of several hours, crews worked to clean up the leaked fuel on the interstate.

Approximately 7,700 gallons combined of both types of fuel escaped from the truck and approximately 2,500 gallons was recovered by the clean up crews leaving an estimated 6,000 gallons that was spilled into the storm drains that lead to Swift Creek east of Interstate 95.

Chesterfield and Colonial Heights fire officials said there are no immediate health concerns for residential drinking water; however, residents in areas bordering Swift Creek east of Interstate 95 could have smelled an odor of gasoline for several days. There is a possibility that citizens will also see an opaque sheen on the waters of Swift Creek.

During a preliminary assessment, the Department of Environmental Quality found a few dead fish and are asking citizens to contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Management at (804) 674-2400 to report any sightings of dead fish or other wildlife on Swift Creek over the next several days.

Those with chronic respiratory conditions are encouraged to remain inside because they may experience increased respiratory difficulty in the presence of heavy fume odors. If you experience any increased difficulty breathing contact 911 or your primary healthcare provider for medical care.

Many organizations were involved with this incident, including Chesterfield County Fire, EMS and Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Chesterfield/Colonials Heights Department of Health, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the State Police.

The interstate was shut down while the fuel was being cleaned up.

Two other incidents in the region made traffic problems worse with many people reporting the Boulevard resembling a parking lot.

About a mile away from this accident, on the northbound side of I-95, a vehicle fire closed off all lanes in Colonial Heights, VDOT said at 9:05 a.m. It appears that the vehicle overheated while sitting in traffic, according to Sgt. Steve Vick with the Virginia State Police. All lanes along I-95 North were open by 9:42 a.m, but delays continued through the area.

Interstate travelers who were diverted from I-95 South to I-295 South hit another snag.

Also at approximately 7:33 a.m., another crash occurred on I-295 South near the Varina Enon Bridge that closed both the left and center lanes for over two hours.

A Ford-250 pickup truck carrying a 24-foot trailer hit the wall on I-295 South and jack-knifed, Vick said.

VDOT reported that all lanes of I-295 were open by 9:41 a.m.

On Interstate 95 South, the left and center lanes remained closed for some time after the crash as crews had to make pavement repairs.

“The pavement in the left and center southbound lanes have sustained significant damage from the fuel spill,” said Rob Bowman, a district maintenance engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Detours were put in place but there were still major delays throughout the day.

VDOT said traffic signal timing adjustments were made along the detour route to allow for a smoother flow of traffic. VDOT Safety Service Patrols have been sent to the Chester area for motorist assistance and monitoring.

Interstate 95 reopened around 2 a.m. Friday.


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