Wreck, spills close Canton roads

Photo of Kathie Warco
by Kathie Warco
Staff Writer
Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter
Workers from Insana Towning, in the background, work to remove a heavily damaged tanker truck at the intersection of Route 18 (Henderson Avenue) and Oak Grove Road and Hewitt Avenue in Canton Township Monday morning. Authorities say a southbound tractor-trailer hauling diesel fuel crashed into the back of a tanker truck hauling fracking water, causing that tanker to roll over. The tractor-trailer then hit a second frack water tanker. Order a Print

A crash early Monday involving a tractor-trailer and two fracking water trucks closed the intersection of Route 18 (Henderson Avenue) and Hewitt Avenue and Oak Grove Road in Canton Township for more than 12 hours. The road reopened about 4 p.m.

State police said a southbound tractor-trailer hauling diesel fuel crashed into the back of a tanker truck hauling fracking water about 3 a.m., causing that tanker to roll over into the parking lot in front of Lowry’s Western Shop. The tractor-trailer then hit a second frack water tanker.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, whose name was not available Monday, was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital, Pittsburgh, for treatment. He was driving for Zappi Oil of Washington. Matthew Scott Warnick of Grantsville was taken to Washington Hospital for treatment. He and Gregory Alan Palm of Herman, Butler County, were driving the tankers for Highland Environmental.

John Poister, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said about 1,300 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the tractor-trailer, while 400 gallons of fracking water came from the overturned tanker. Some of the fluids flowed into Chartiers Creek. Poister said the tankers were hauling the fracking water from one Range Resources well pad to another one in the county.

“The first responding crews from the fire department and hazmat team did a good job getting the spill quickly,” said Poister, adding the DEP’s emergency team also was on the scene quickly, along with Weavertown Environmental.

By early afternoon, the DEP was able to assess the situation.

“We don’t believe as much fuel or fracking water went into the creek as we did initially,” Poister said. “Much of it was contained to the storm drains. The shoulder of the road, as well as the nearby soil, also was contaminated by the fuel.”

Poister said some of it did get into the creek, but there is no oil sheen on the surface and no indication of immediate impact. DEP crews will continue to monitor the creek and take additional samples. Canton Township fire Chief Dave Gump said the spilled fluids were “like a river rolling down Henderson Avenue” when he answered the initial call. Gump asked fire crews from Chartiers and South Strabane townships to check the creek close to the Washington County fairgrounds.

Ron Sicchitano, deputy director of the Washington County Public Safety Department, said workers were able to off-load the remaining fracking water on the wrecked tankers to other trucks.

“There was a sheen on the creek on the other side of the road,” Sicchitano said Monday morning. “We notified the Washington-East Washington Joint Authority of the spill.”

The authority has its treatment plant not far from where the spill occurred.

Poister said the contaminated soil was being removed as part of the remediation effort. There also was a boom at the end of the storm drain to make sure nothing more was getting into the creek. Weavertown crews also were using a vacuum machine to remove the spilled material from the storm drains.

“The work is time-consuming because so much of the fuel ended up on the road and shoulder,” Poister said. “Our other priority was to get the road open.”

Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for the state Department of Transportation’s District 12, which includes Washington County, said 11,000 vehicles go through that intersection on a daily basis.

Sicchitano said the Trinity Area and Chartiers-Houston school districts were also notified since the closure affected bus routes.

Also assisting at the scene were police from Chartiers and South Strabane townships.