The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 3, 2010

Coolant spill shuts portion of North Van Buren

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Authorities said Wednesday an area of road below the North Van Buren overpass will remain closed until a spill can be cleaned up.

An estimated 900 gallons of coolant leaked from a transformer following an accident Wednesday, ac-cording to an Enid Police Department report.

Ronald C. Tharp, 24, of Verden, was driving northbound in the right lane of North Van Buren at noon Wednesday and said he felt his trailer come off and begin going toward oncoming traffic, according to the report.

Tharp hit his brakes to catch the trailer with the back of his semi, which caused the gooseneck of the trailer to go onto the right side of his truck, causing the tire to go flat, the report states. The cooling coils of the transformer were ruptured on the back of his truck, and Tharp led the trailer to the east access road.

The dragging jackstand on the left side of the semi caused the transformer coolant to catch fire. Enid Fire Department firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire. It was estimated about 900 gallons of coolant leaked onto the street and the ditch, according to the report.

A preliminary sample of the coolant was shown to be mineral oil. Samples were sent to the lab to test for PCBs, a toxic pollutant.

Fire Marshal Ken Helms said the samples showed no signs of PCBs. The Department of Environmental Quality was called to the scene and workers with EMI, a cleanup company from Guthrie, were expected to arrive in Enid Wednesday night to clean up the spill.

Mike Honigsberg, director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management, said the area under the overpass will be closed for a couple of days while the spill is cleaned up. Authorities are not sure what chemicals were in the coolant, he said. In addition to the Van Buren off-ramp being closed, motorists driving east on Chestnut will not be allowed to drive under the overpass. They will be required to turn off onto the access road west of the overpass.

Helms said firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, and firefighters remained on scene until 6 p.m. to provide safety. Police remained on scene Wednesday night.

Tharp was cited for improper equipment because the hitch of the trailer had broken.