Semi crash sends oil and fuel into Cedar River - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Semi crash sends oil and fuel into Cedar River


by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - A semi crash shut down part of Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids for almost three hours Tuesday.

Police say the driver lost control and hit the guardrail. The effects of the crash were felt in the Cedar River below.

It began as a response to a semi crashing into a guardrail.

"The trailer overturned and the first priority obviously was to make sure the driver was okay," Cedar Rapids fire department spokesman Greg Buelow said.

It turned into a mad dash to stop fuel from spilling into the Cedar River.

"Some diesel and perhaps some oil was going into the Cedar River so the fire department came down onto the water, put the boats in at about the 8th avenue bridge and discovered film that appeared to be some diesel and oil on the river," Buelow said.

Hazmat crews began using what are known as booms, a white foam that absorbs fuel and oil. While the booms picked up most of the spill, Buelow believes some came out of a storm sewer.

"Worst case scenario up to 100 gallons may have gone into the river," Buelow said. 

Reports of fuel in the water came from as far south as the ADM plant. While Tuesday's rain may have been a contributor to the crash, it also kept the effects of the spill from being even worse.

"We're hopeful that with the amount of rain that we received today, the volume of water in the Cedar River that it mitigates or helps dilute the diesel enough that it isn't a major hazard," Buelow said.

The Department of Natural Resources did not issue an advisory and it's unclear what effects the spill could have on any fish in the water. Buelow recommends people err on the side of caution.

"I don't know if I would go fishing right in the area where you could smell diesel or something like that."

But that's just what several people continued to do throughout the afternoon.

The driver of the semi, Hestor Scotty, of Arkansas was cited for not wearing a seat belt and failing to maintain control.

Police say Scotty was thrown from the truck, but was taken to the hospital with only minor injuries.

The last Eastern Iowa fuel spill was in April along I-80 near Coralville.

Something punctured a hole in a tanker, causing diesel to spill onto the interstate.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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