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Cleanup Begins On Lucas Valley Road After Gas Tanker Overturns

LUCAS VALLEY (KPIX 5) -- A cleanup operation has begun on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County after a gasoline tanker truck overturned on Sunday morning, leaking fuel into a dry creek bed. Now, attention has turned to the size of the problem and what it will take to clean it up.

A trucker delivering fuel to a station in Pt. Reyes failed to get around a tight corner of Lucas Valley Road above Westgate Drive and slid down into the creek bed. The driver suffered minor injuries and at the time, officials thought about 200-250 gallons of gas leaked out.

When the tanker was drained for removal, it turns it was actually 10 times that amount.

"What we estimate, based on the amount of difference once they offloaded the tank…they estimate around 2,100 gallons total was released," said CHP Public Information Officer Andrew Barclay.

The truck is gone now and the cleanup operation has commenced. The gas has soaked into the soil and private companies are beginning the process of removing as much of it as possible. It won't be easy.

The terrain is steep and getting digging equipment down to the creek bed presents a challenge. And even after they're finished, regulators like the Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Fish and Wildlife will be monitoring the area for months to come.

"If there was water in here, it would be a different story. Right now, the heat and the fact that it's dry is really to our benefit," game warden Trisha Taniguchi said. "We'll definitely be here when the first rains occur to see what may or may not appear in the water at that time."

Every penny of the operation will be paid for by the trucking company, Nick Barbieri Trucking based in Ukiah. That's because their driver never should have been on Lucas Valley Road to begin with. A sign says trucks over 36 feet long are prohibited because there isn't enough room to get around some of the hairpin turns.

"Him being a 50-foot trailer on a regulatory black-and-white-sign, 36-foot-trailer roadway…he's in violation," said CHP Officer Barclay. "That is technically a criminal act…he's broken a law."

The trucker has not been cited, but that's because all the agencies involved have to submit reports to the District Attorney's Office to decide what, if any, charges should be filed.

The CHP says it's possible the driver was unfamiliar with the road and just followed directions from a GPS-mapping app. But the damage has been done, and he and the company he works for are facing a big bill to pay because of it.

The CHP says Lucas Valley Road will have one-lane controls for at least a week, but it could be longer as the cleanup operation continues.

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