Update: Friars Road west of Napa remains closed. We have no timeline for that road opening.
May 13, 2016 (San Diego) According to California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Officer Jake Sanchez at about 5:55 in the afternoon “a tanker truck, traveling westbound on the I-8 took the Morena offramp. and overturned as it came to the bottom of the ramp spilling some of it’s fuel into the river down bellow.”The cause of the accident is still under investigation, and they are looking at all possible causes, including possible mechanical issues, as well as excessive speeds. At this time there are no charges pending. What this accident caused though was the closure of the Morena bridge, between Taylor Street and Linda Vista, which is a very busy road. The CHP does request that drivers stay out of the area for the remainder of the night. The Sig Alert is in place until midnight, but it could be extended depending on the cleanup requirements. Some of these incidents can take upwards of 15 hours to clean. They still need to empty the truck and put it up on four wheels and see what else they need to do.
Hard road closures were put in place by San Diego Police at both ends, and no traffic was allowed on the bridge. The reason for that is that the authorities need to clean up the spill and some of the fuel did go into the San Diego River. While there is an environmental impact at play, the first priority for the authorities is life and safety. There are homeless encampments in that area.
On arrival the first priority of the first units was to prevent fuel going into storm drains, and this was accomplished using sand used to surround the fuel and the storm drains preventing the fuel from going into them. Unfortunately some of the fuel did go into the river, and there are both Fish and wildlife officers and Coast Guard on scene. When we arrived on scene the smell of diesel was quite noticeable as we approached the scene on foot. Diesel though tends to dissipate pretty fast so you could not smell it by the small shopping center that also serves at the Green Line trolley station, and service was not interrupted on the line.
The tanker truck is owned by Soco Group and the driver was transported to UCSD medical center for evaluation of cuts and bruises. Officer Sanchez said that other agencies present at this incident included San Diego Fire, San Diego police. The Coast Guard, Caltrans and a civilian company hired by the owner of the tanker truck to assist with the cleanup, and we saw County HAZMAT on scene as well.
Angus McDonald, local president of the Soco Group also spoke to the media. He said, “unfortunately we had a truck roll over tonight. I don’t have all the particulars of the accident quite yet. But there was unfortunately a spill, one of the compartments was breached.” These trucks have four compartments.He added that they are “still ascertaining exactly how many gallons have been lost, but we are working very closely with our local agencies.” Moreover, they do have policies and procedures to follow when this happens. He also said that the driver is expected to be released tonight. He also said that the local authorities have been great.
The first concern for the company was the health of the driver, while the second “is to containing the spill and in taking the next steps to remediate whatever issues they caused.”