Hazmat teams begin work to remove 3,000 gallons of liquid asphalt from tanker spill

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Can you imagine having the responsibility of removing 3,000 gallons of liquid asphalt that is transported at 300 degrees?

That is now the job of VLS Hazmat following a weekend accident involving a tanker truck that spilled its load at the Diboll Depot off Highway 59 south of Lufkin.

A tanker trucker, driven by Earnest Pearson, 29, of Houston, was making a turn into the Diboll Depot off of Highway 59 southbound when he apparently turned too fast for the size of the load on his truck and the weight shifted, according to the investigating Diboll police officer.

Hazmat crews spring into action and managed to contain the spill.  They covered the affected area with dirt in order to stabilize it. "The spill turned out to be less severe than was first thought.  Liquid asphalt is transported at a temperature of 300 degrees, so it is very hot.  In order to cool it down and get it to a state where we can completely remove it, we've covered the affected area with dirt to help cool and solidify or harden it," said Richard Lenius, District Manager for DLS Hazmat.

Now two days later crews are back on the scene digging up the substance for disposal.

The tanker truck overturned in the parking lot of the Chevron Station on the northside of Diboll.  The tanker had been carrying a liquid oil type substance, a type of asphalt ready mix, or tar pitch that bonds the gravel used for roadwork, according to investigators.  It is believed as much as 3000 gallons of the substance leaked from the tanker into the roadway, causing the southbound lanes of highway 59 to be closed.

Pearson is said to have picked up the load in Shreveport and was making a stop in Diboll on his way back to Houston.  The tanker truck belongs to EHC Trucking out of Houston.

Pearson suffered a broken arm and hit his head during the accident.  He was transported to Lufkin Memorial Health System for treatment.  No other injuries were reported.  No other vehicles were involved.

Diboll police responded to the call around 7:19 Saturday night.  Pearson will be cited for making an unsafe turn, a $168 fine according to investigators.

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