Williamsburg reopened its raw water intake Tuesday nearly a day after which it was closed following a chemical spill that reached the Clear Fork River.
Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said the intake was closed Monday afternoon as an unknown portion of approximately 1,600 gallons of butyl acrylates that had leaked from an overturned tanker truck at the bridge on Buck Creek Road crossing the CSX railroad track had made its way into the river.
“Most of it was on the railroad tracks,” Moses said of the spill.
The Clear Fork River flows into the Cumberland River from which the city draws its water.
Officials from the Kentucky Division of Water were monitoring the situation, performing water quality tests before giving approval for the city to open the intake.
“It will eventually reach Lake Cumberland, but it will dissipate even further before it gets anywhere close,” Moses said, adding that it will not affect any other water district.
Emergency personnel and cleanup crews worked until approximately 1:15 a.m. to unload the tanker, right it, and haul it from the scene.
“What took so long, was getting a tanker from Indianapolis to offload it,” Moses said, noting that was the trucking company’s decision.
Cleanup continued at the scene Tuesday.
Moses said approximately 39 feet of railroad track, along with ties and gravel had been removed and was in the process of being replaced as part of the cleanup effort.
That portion of Buck Creek Road was closed, and the residents on nearby Claude Smith Road were evacuated as a precaution.
The driver, identified as Valrey Laroche, 43, of Marietta, Georgia was not injured in the crash.
Moses said the Laroche reported that he had spent the night at the Pilot Travel Center in Williamsburg. Upon leaving the truck stop Monday, he continued south with the chemical load that is used in paints, sealants, coatings, adhesives, fuel, textiles, plastics and caulk.
“He turned on his GPS and it brought him south on U.S. 25W. For some reason he came up this road.” Moses explained when asked how the Laroche got onto Buck Creek Road.
As Laroche attempted to turn around, the trailer dropped off the bridge and overturned, allowing the chemical to leak. The trailer has a capacity of approximately 9,000 gallons.
Pleasant View, Emlyn, and South Whitley Firefighters, Kentucky State Police Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Whitley County Sheriff’s deputies, Larry Todd with Williamsburg Fire Department, Jerry Rains with Kentucky Emergency Management, and personnel with the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet are on the scene.