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Fuel Cleanup in West Des Moines Ongoing

WEST DES MOINES--Cleanup continues along Highway 5 south of West Des Moines where a westbound tanker overturned last Friday morning, June 17.

DNR is monitoring cleanup efforts after nearly 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline leaked into the median, with some of it running through a culvert under the eastbound lanes ending up in a road ditch on the south side of the highway.

“We are really fortunate with that much fuel that it didn’t get into any stream or water,” said Bill Gibbons, DNR environmental field specialist.

Dry weather and the spill location in the median helped. Tall reeds on the south side of the road kept fuel in place long enough that it soaked in rather than running off.

Tanker owner, Sully Transport, is working with environmental contractors to excavate and remove contaminated soil.

“They started in the median digging up fuel-soaked soil, trucking in fresh soil to fill in the void as they work,” Gibbons said. The contractor is digging down 12 to 15 feet to remove soil in roughly a 20-foot wide by 200-yard long swath in the median. “After finishing the median, they’ll begin work in the south road ditch, which will mean another couple of hundred feet that needs to be excavated,” he said.

Even a small amount of fuel can contaminate soil, potentially polluting groundwater that comes in contact with it.

Contaminated soil is usually hauled to a landfill where it is spread out and disked so sunlight and microorganisms can break down the fuel.

Once testing shows the soil is clean, it is spread on top to cover landfilled garbage.