Energy & Environment

Officials contain hazardous 2,200-gallon tar spill in Springfield 

Photo via Vermont Hazardous Materials Response Team Facebook page.

State and local crews worked quickly together to contain a 2,200-gallon tar spill and evaluate impacts of contamination on Monday, said Paul Stagner, deputy chief of the Springfield Fire Department. 

Although some tar did reach a brook running alongside Route 11, the damage wasn’t severe, according to Stagner. The road itself was not harmed, he said. 

Vermont’s Hazardous Materials Response team and the state Agency of Natural Resources worked with the Springfield Fire Department to tackle the problem.

The spill resulted from an accident involving Pike Industries, one of the biggest paving companies in New England, Stagner said. Pike officials and a state engineer were present when a hydraulic line failed in a piece of Pike’s paving equipment. 

A person who tried to fix the line and stop the leak suffered minor burns on his arms and was taken to the hospital, according to Stagner. The man was released from the hospital after treatment.

“I've been on the state hazmat team for a number of years myself and on the (Springfield) department for over 17 years,” Stagner said. “This is the first time I've ever seen something like this happen with this piece of equipment.” 

The waterway contamination was quickly mitigated by using sand piles to create dams, Stagner said. The contaminant was a tar-like substance that doesn’t have its own hazmat ID number. It does not harden in the way that concrete would. 

The Agency of Natural Resources is continuing to evaluate the potential for contamination, according to Vermont Emergency Management spokesperson Ian Kilburn.

Route 11 was closed Monday morning at the intersection of Bellows Road while cleanup work continued, but reopened shortly after noon, according to the Vermont State Police.

“Pike did a good job moving the equipment to prevent it from leaking into an area that was going to be exposed to the waterway,” Stagner said. “Quite a bit of material did leak, but it was all contained relatively quickly onto the road and into a dirt area that was dug up.” 

Last Thursday, an early-morning fuel spill closed Interstate 91 southbound in Hartland. According to state police spokesperson Adam Silverman, 50 to 70 gallons of fuel spilled. The local fire department, the Hazardous Materials Response team and the Agency of Transportation handled that earlier incident. 

Ethan Weinstein contributed to the reporting of this story.

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Ella Ruehsen

About Ella

Ella is a student at the University of Vermont, where she is majoring in environmental studies and was recently elected editor in chief of the Vermont Cynic, the school’s independent student newspaper. She previously was a reporter and news editor at the Cynic and interned last summer at the Burlington Free Press.

Email: [email protected]

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