Nacogdoches gas spill cleanup continues; weather a negative factor

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Hazmat crew is working against the clock and the weather to clean up a huge gas spill in downtown Nacogdoches that happened Wednesday afternoon.

According to Richard Lenius, the manager of the private hazmat company, any rain on Thursday could force gas that is on the pavement into Banita Creek.

A transport truck spilled thousands of gallons of fuel at "The Depot" Chevron station at West Main and Old Tyler Road.

Sgt. Greg Sowell said the driver of the truck struck a retaining post at a gas pump with the trailer of the truck, causing damage to the valve on the truck. Representatives with Morgan Oil, which owns the gas station, were at the scene.

Sowell said about 2,100 gallons of gas flowed into Banita Creek. Fire personnel and hazmat officials immediately began working to contain the spill.

Lenius said buoys are in the creek to prevent oil from going far in the creek.

Officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife are on the scene Thursday to deal with the inevitable death of fish.

Lenius said the decision was made to close restaurants in the area Wednesday night after air checks showed that even a cigarette could cause an explosion.

The spill almost canceled the Eli Young Band concert Wednesday night at Banita Creek Hall, but officials decided to let them open at the last minute once the air checks showed the area was no longer dangerous.

Lenius said Morgan Oil officials have been completely cooperative with the cleanup and investigation.

"The majority of the free product of the fuel has been picked up," Lenius said. "Right now, all we have is a little bit of residue that's been leftover on the bank."

The fuel soaked dirt is loaded into trailers for proper disposal. Haz mat crews are concerned about approaching rain.

"We have preventative booms strategically placed throughout the creek to help capture any product that might slip away from us," Lenius said.

Despite the precautions, fuel films float about a mile downstream.

"We have what we call underflow dams," Lenius said. "It allows the water to flow on the underside, but capture he remaining hydro carbon molecules on top of the water."

The contamination runs very deep, right under those two trees. Eventually they will have to be taken down because the root system is taking the fuel beyond the point.

Morgan Oil pays for the cleanup, just like owners did three years ago when 300 gallons of fuel spilled into Lanana Creek following a mishap. The same driver is responsible for this spill seven times larger.

"You don't want these things to happen, but you know we're human and like I say, the driver raked across the pole and caused this problem," said Doug Jordan of Morgan Oil.

The company plans to monitor and assist the cleanup to the very end.

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