Fuel spill closes Highway 19E for six hours

By Abby Morris

Star Staff

   ROAN MOUNTAIN -- A fuel spill from a tractor trailer truck on U.S. Highway 19E Friday evening resulted in the closure of the highway for approximately 6 hours as emergency personnel worked to clear the scene and prevent any further contamination.
   According to a police report, Carter County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bradley N. Johnson was patrolling in the Whitehead Hill area of Roan Mountain when he saw a tractor trailer stopped in the middle of the northbound lane of the highway.
   Johnson reported that the driver of the truck, Henry Jones, Jr., 120 Roan St., said that, as he was driving, the truck "had dropped a drive line which had ruptured the fuel cells."
   When Johnson checked the vehicle, he observed "a solid stream of fuel pouring out onto the roadway". The spill covered approximately 300 yards of the northbound lane and surrounding area.
   The Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene to contain the spill and prevent further contamination.
   The truck belongs to a fleet from Mike Aldridge Trucking, and the owner of that company also responded to the scene and arranged for Hepaco, Inc., a Knoxville-based environmental emergency response company, to help dispose of the fuel.
   According to Reneé Bowers, director of the Carter County Emergency Management Agency, grass along the roadside was removed and replaced with gravel. Bowers said that approximately 125 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the roadway and surrounding area.
   Responders from Hepaco took samples of the contaminated soil to be tested, and Hepaco officials said Monday that sample testing was not yet complete and results were unavailable.