METHUEN — A truck driver apparently took a turn too fast and flipped his tanker truck onto its side spilling about 4,500 gallons of heating oil onto Route 28 near wetlands yesterday afternoon, officials said.
The incident sparked an environmental cleanup effort that lasted into the night and caused traffic problems.
Local and state police, firefighters, Department of Public Works employees, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the state Department of Transportation, and private contractors responded to the scene on Route 28, just south of the bridge that crosses Route 213.
DEP spokesman Edmund Coletta said about 4,500 gallons of No. 2 heating oil spilled. Police Capt. Thomas Fram said nobody was injured.
Police diverted traffic on Route 28, which is Broadway, onto side streets. Fuel streamed down the right lane of the northbound side of Route 28 for roughly 75 yards, as well as onto the grass next to the road and down Nevins Road.
The accident happened about 3 p.m. Police identified the driver as Louis Fejes, 31, of Georgetown. The tanker was a 2009 Mack.
"We believe he took the turn a little fast and flipped it," Fram said.
Fram said the truck, owned by the Lawrence-based gas station chain Haffner's, came off Route 213 and took a left onto Route 28 north.
Methuen police and the State Police truck team are investigating, and the driver may be cited, Fram said.
The truck fell onto its side on the sidewalk. Police were unable to give an estimate last night for how long the street will remain closed.
"Once we suck this up, the road is contaminated. They may have to dig this out. This may turn into a huge project," Fram said.
Crews recently finished paving the street in that area. Fuel will disintegrate the pavement, Fram said.
Department of Transportation spokesman Adam Hurtubise said the decision about whether to repave the street would be made after the accident is cleared and the oil is cleaned up.
The oil drained into a catch basin, which drains into a nearby wetland.
"The concern now is it may move through the wetland to the Spicket River," Coletta said.
The Spicket River flows into the Merrimack River, which is a source of drinking water for several communities.
So far, the oil has not made it's way to the wetland, Coletta said.
"They're going to try to keep it that way," he said.
Haffner's brought in a contractor, Clean Venture General Chemical of Framingham, and DEP activated ENPRO to help with the cleanup.
Firefighters and DPW workers built small sand berms to contain the oil. Several Haffner's employees also helped with the cleanup. People used SpeedyDry and laminate towels to soak up the oil.
Deputy fire Chief Sean Nartiff said vacuum trucks were used to suck oil off the ground. As a precaution, crews pumped the oil that remained in the tanker into another truck before they righted the tanker, he said.
Haffner's will pay for the cleanup, said company service manager Rick Pelletier.
A distraught woman outside the police station said the tanker almost hit her while she drove through the intersection.
Robert Foster, who runs Dube Lock Co. with his wife out of their home at 323 Broadway, said a firefighter made him evacuate.
"We weren't sure what we were dealing with so we had them evacuate that one house," Nartiff said.
Foster had to close his business for the day. His home is the closest building to the accident scene.
Nartiff said last night that Foster was allowed back inside.
The police station is just down the street from the crash scene. Foster said he heard the crash from his home, and police arrived right away.
No cost estimate for the damage was available last night.