February 22, 2012
The state Department of Ecology is on the scene of a traffic accident on westbound SR-520 west of I-405 in Bellevue to respond to fuel spills from one or more of the vehicles involved. Ecology is cooperating with other agencies responding at the scene.
Ecology was notified of the accident at 4:40 a.m. this morning. The department is working with the cities of Bellevue and Kirkland departments of public works and the Washington Department of Transportation to track the flow of spilled fuel, and take measures to contain it.
A dump truck involved in the collision sustained damage to a fuel tank, which released diesel fuel onto the roadway. Oil flowed into storm drains that empty into Yarrow Creek. The truck’s owner has hired an environmental cleanup contractor to conduct further cleanup operations under Ecology oversight.
Responders have placed oil cleanup materials onto Yarrow Creek where a sheen – a thin coating on the surface – appears on the water. Crews will clean out a catch basin near the roadway to stop further releases of oil to the stream.
All oil spills cause environmental damage, regardless of size. Oil is toxic to the environment and the damage starts as soon as the oil hits water. A single quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water.
An environmental cleanup contractor will continue to tend oil spill cleanup materials in Yarrow Creek over the next several days. The company that owns the dump truck involved in the accident hired the contractor. The truck sustained damage to a fuel tank, causing diesel fuel to spill onto the roadway and into the adjoining drainage system, which flows to the Creek. Ecology oversees the cleanup efforts.
Responders observed sheen on the creek’s surface. Sheen is a thin coating of oil on the water. The crew has deployed cleanup materials at two locations on the creek within a quarter mile of the accident site. Oil readily attaches to these materials. The team will periodically visit these locations to replace oiled cleanup pads and booms. This will continue for several days until the materials no longer collect oil.
If the cleanup team members observe impacts to fish or wildlife, they will report to Ecology, which can draw assistance from state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.