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State officials say tanker crash and fuel spill will slow Hwy 38 traffic for some time

Capsized tanker truck
Oregon Dept. of Transportation
An aerial view of the capsized tanker truck and response crews.

A tanker truck crash, fuel spill, and clean-up in Douglas County have caused delays on Highway 38, and will continue for at least another week.

The incident happened six miles west of Drain Wednesday morning.

Dylan Darling of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality told KLCC that nearly 1,247 gallons of diesel, and 771 gallons of gasoline were spilled. He said there’s no indication of any harm to local waterways, which is his agency’s main concern.

“We do want to get this cleaned up, get any soil that’s been contaminated by the fuel at the crash site cleaned up so that the contamination will be gone and also the traffic along the highway will be moving again,” he said.

Traffic driving around tipped over fuel truck.
Oregon Department of Transportation
Road crews redirect traffic from the site of a fuel tanker truck crash near Drain.

Western Hyway Oil is the transportation arm of Portland-based WSCO Petroleum, which owns and operates the tanker. In a joint release issued by the DEQ and Oregon DOT, it says Western Hyway Oil has hired a contractor to clean up the spill.

Darling said flaggers are directing traffic in one lane as crews clean up the fuel and rebuild damaged parts of the road. Drivers can expect delays up to 20 minutes, and are encouraged to find alternate routes if possible.

For the latest on highway lane closures, people can go to tripcheck.com. And for updates on the cleanup, Dylan invites people to visit the DEQ blog at ordeq.org/hwy38spill-June-7-2023.

Meanwhile, a public information officer with the Oregon State Police told KLCC that the tanker driver apparently swerved to avoid a deer in his path. The driver was not seriously injured.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.