Sand Truck Quickly Dams Gasoline Spill on Highway

Sand Truck Quickly Dams Gasoline Spill on Highway

There’s been a lot written about using sawdust—or even the soft earth on the shoulder of a rural road—to build dams to contain flowing liquid. But what do you do when a 7,700-gallon gasoline tanker overturns and rips open in several places at a busy interstate highway intersection?

When this happened in Seekonk, R. I., about 2 p.m., April 21, both Seekonk and East Providence, R. I., firemen responded. Gasoline was flooding the intersection and flowing into a marshy area when East Providence Chief Michael J. Fox arrived. A serious exposure was a motel less than 100 feet from the tanker.

Looking around for some way to contain the gasoline, Fox spotted far far back in the stopped traffic a truck loaded with sand. Feeling that the possibility of a source of ignition on the truck was more remote than the safety to be gained by damming the gasoline so that it could be blanketed with foam, Fox asked the driver to skirt the area with the truck body raised sufficiently to let sand run out the small gate on the tailboard. The chief impressed on the driver the need to keep moving.

Thus the sand dam was quickly formed, the gasoline pool was foamed over, and the gasoline outside the dam was washed away. Later, the oil company that owned the tanker used suction pumps to skim gasoline off the marsh water.

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