Archived Story

Community helps clean up diesel spill

Published 11:49am Friday, November 9, 2012

When an 18-wheeler loaded down with diesel fuel overturned on Hwy. 50 Monday, numerous departments and individuals across the county responded.

Tracey Johnson, fire chief of Union VFD, said that this quick and collaborative response kept this disaster from becoming much, much worse.

“The way the community pulled together – they didn’t have to, but they did – saved the company millions of dollars and prevented a lot of pollution,” Johnson said. “It would have been an entirely different outcome.”

Johnson said the 18-wheeler overturned about a half a mile from Martin Dam. About 8,000 to 9,000 gallons of diesel fuel began leaking.

Paces Point Fire Chief Jeff Henderson happened to be driving home when he stumbled across the scene and began sizing up the response, Johnson said. Union Fire Department responded soon after.

“As first responders, we mitigated the incident to try to prevent any further damage,” Johnson said. “We had to stop the fuel from getting into the creek.”

Johnson said that Walnut Hill Water Authority brought excavation equipment to the scene to begin trying to make a makeshift dam.

“If it had got into the river and then the water system, it would have affected everybody south of Martin Dam,” Johnson said.

The response soon grew to include many departments. District 5 County Commissioner Dwaine Holt and his crew brought a backhoe and loads of dirt and sand. Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department helped with traffic control. Reeltown, Union and Paces Point Volunteer Fire Departments responded. Elmore County Sheriff’s deputy assisted, along with the Tallapoosa County Forestry Division, Tallapoosa County Emergency Management Agency and Tallapoosa County EMS.

Freedom Fuels also lent a hand, helping to pump up fuel so it wouldn’t make it to the waterway. Freedom Fuels also brought a wrecker to remove the 18-wheeler from the scene.

Johnson said he wanted to thank everyone involved.  Since so many people ended up assisting, he also said he would like to thank anyone he did not mention.

“It was a quick and professional response from everybody involved,” Johnson said. “It took friendship, knowledge and the community pulling together to ensure no worse damage occurred.”

Johnson also thanked Jim’s Bait Shop and Oskar’s Café for delivering pizzas to the responders.

“Within 45 minutes, these restaurants delivered food to the group,” Johnson said. “We were out there for about 8 hours. I would call this a medium to large-scale incident that actually went very well. ”