An accident involving a tractor-trailer loaded with electrical transformers closed a section of Highway A, south of Krakow, Monday and prompted a major cleanup operation, Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich said.
Halmich said no one was injured in the accident but traffic on Route A, between Highway YY and Cedar Lane, was restricted for nearly 8 1/2 hours.
The southbound Maczuk Trucking Company truck was carrying five transformers that were being shipped from the CG Power Systems plant in Washington to locations in other states.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the driver lost control and the truck slid into the ditch. That caused the load to shift, and the transformers fell off the flatbed trailer. The crash also knocked down two utility poles and a large electrical feeder line, Halmich said.
“When we arrived, the electrical line was still hot and the ground around it was smoking,” Halmich said.
At that point, firefighters began closing off that section of highway and told the driver to remain inside the truck because the power line was still energized.
Ameren Missouri workers responded quickly to the scene and turned off power to the line, Halmich said.
However, all of the transformers sustained damage and were leaking oil onto the ground.
Halmich said four of the units were leaking mineral oil but the fifth transformer contained FR3 transformer oil which has a low hazard rate but can be a problem if it enters a waterway.
Firefighters built dikes to contain the leaking oil and notified the Missouri Department of Natural Resources about the spill.
Meanwhile a company was called in to transfer the remaining oil from the transformers to holding tanks on a truck and another company brought in a boom truck to load the transformers onto another flatbed trailer brought to the scene.
“It was a very slow and arduous cleanup operation,” Halmich remarked.
Another company was called in to vacuum up the spilled oil which was taken to an approved landfill. Fischer Oil Company responded with a special material used to absorb the remaining oil, Halmich said.
Because of the amount of traffic, the Missouri Department of Transportation was notified and provided workers to assist with traffic control. MoDOT also brought in a hydraulic broom to clean up any remaining oil from the roadway.
“When they were finished, the highway was so clean you could eat off of it,” said Halmich who inspected the site Tuesday morning.
Upon completion of the cleanup, the tractor-trailer was pulled from the ditch and driven from the scene. Halmich said the driver was not hurt but went to the hospital later to be examined.
Nineteen Washington firefighters were called out to assist with the cleanup. The last ones left the scene at 10:30 p.m., Halmich said.