Severe weather delays tanker cleanup efforts - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Severe weather delays tanker cleanup efforts

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UPDATE 10:15 P.M.

According to Roanoke County Police, the trailer is up, but crews are unsure when the tractor will come up. The Hazmat incident has been cleared.

UPDATE 9:05 P.M.

Roanoke County Fire & Rescue says that although the tanker was capable of holding 8,000 gallons, it was holding about 4,800 gallons of "formaldehyde solution."

Crews on scene have now vacuumed as much of the solution from the tanker as possible base on the way it is positioned.

The local heavy-duty wrecker service will next attempt to pull the tanker on to the road in an upright position so crews can vacuum the remaining solution.

Roanoke Fire & Rescue says the road is expected to be open at that time, but crews will likely continue clean-up efforts into tomorrow.

Reporter Brie Jackson will have live reports coming up on WSLS 10 at 11.

UPDATE 8:40 P.M.

Crews continue to clean up the scene of a tanker accident in Roanoke County. The tractor-trailer was carrying embalming fluid.

Heavy rain continues to delay efforts to remove the tanker from the embankment. The accident happened along 116 near the intersection of Coopers Cove and Windy Gap. Rain and wet roads could make it hard for crews to remove the tanker of the hilly area.

UPDATE: 7:40 P.M.

Roanoke County Police say residence who were evacuated from Jae Valley are now allowed back to their homes.
Jae Valley will remain closed for approximately the next three hours while the removal of the tanker truck is ongoing.
Due to possible severe weather, it is possible the tractor portion may not be removed from the area today.

People living in nearly 20 homes in the area near Jae Valley Road  have been evacuated after a tractor trailer accident on Route 116 in Roanoke County. Evacuations will remain in effect through Wednesday evening. The tractor trailer was carrying about 4800 gallons of embalming fluid, which is believed to be leaking.

The driver of the truck, 61-year-old David Bennett of Conway, SC, is being charged with fail to obey a highway sign and fail to maintain control.

Trucks 28 feet or longer are forbidden on Jae Valley Road. Traffic signs stating that are posted for drivers. It is unclear whether Bennett knew the restrictions regarding trucks of that size driving on Route 116.

Route 116 is completely closed starting about 1.5 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Traffic is being detoured around the closure. 

Southbound traffic can use Route 866 (Mount Pleasant Boulevard) to Route 617 (Pitzer Road) to Route 681 (Coopers Cove Road) onto Route 116. Northbound Route 116 traffic is being diverted onto Route 681 and onto Route 617 to return to northbound Route 116.

Officials say crews are having difficulty reaching the area below the crashed tanker to determine how much of the embalming fluid has spilled.  The tanker is about 20-30 feet down a steep embankment in a heavily-wooded and steep area. 

Officials say they know the tanker is actively leaking. Haz Mat personnel have been checking air quality around the area and found it to be okay everywhere except the immediate area surrounding the truck. Those personnel working very close to the tanker are reporting smelling the noxious fumes when the wind shifts. 

A hazardous materials contractor has arrived at the site to contain the spill, including containment and clean-up. A heavy-duty wrecker is also on site and will work to recover the tanker.

Mount Pleasant Elementary School at 3216 Mount Pleasant Boulevard has been set up as a temporary shelter for people who have evacuated in the are.

Officials have not released an estimated time for reopening Route 116. 

The wreck happened around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning in the 4200 block of Jae Valley Road. The driver was able to climb out of the vehicle, which flipped during the crash. That person was transported to the hospital with what seem to be non-life threatening injuries.

Crews from the Vinton, Mount Pleasant, and Cave Spring stations are on scene, as well as a Virginia Department of Emergency Management - Haz Mat crew  and the Roanoke Valley Haz Mat Team working to minimize any leakage of the embalming fluid.
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