Emergency crews avert potential disaster - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Emergency crews avert potential disaster

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June 30, 2003

Albany-- An environmental disaster was prevented this weekend when by the quick and skillful actions of Albany's first responders. A tanker truck with nearly 9,000 gallons of gasoline overturned in one of the city's busiest intersections.

Fortunately no one was injured, and the potential hazardous mess was cleaned up. But the Albany Fire Department is using this real life response as a learning tool for future disaster preparedness.

Lt. Tommy Bridges goes over the steps taken Saturday, when a gasoline tanker truck overturned at the intersection of Oakridge and South Slappey. These firemen go over the tactics that were used to avoid a disaster.

Assistant Fire Chief James Carswell said "We are very pleased with the outcome, but there is always something we can go back and refine."

One of the valve covers was damaged, and some of the 8,700 gallons of gas began to leak. Albany Fire Department, Police Department, and Emergency Management were the first responders to the very serious situation.

Carswell said "Most definitely. The worst case scenario is that all 8,700 gallons spills on the ground, ignites, and then we have a fire problem."

Traffic was detoured around the area, and electrical power was turned off to avoid any spark hazards. While fire crews stood by ready, a hole was bored into the tanker's five compartments. The gas was pumped into another tanker.

Meanwhile, firemen kept the 150 gallons of fuel that spilled from going into storm drains. It took seven hours before the mess was cleaned up. Now the fire department uses this real life operation as a training tool in case of future hazmat spills.

Carswell said "Practice, practice, practice. We go out everytime we drill like it's the real thing. We similuate the conditions so that we have to react to things we can actually see smell and feel. So that it's reaction to proper training, and not reaction to something that crops up unexpectedly."

The Albany Fire Department will send details of their clean up to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, as one of their hazmat practice drills. The driver of the gasoline tanker was charged with driving too fast for conditions.

Fuel South will have to pay the city of Albany for the cost of the emergency response.

posted at 4:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com