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Hwy. 22 to be closed all week by fuel tanker crash; river spill creates sheen

Fuel tanker crash Hwy. 22 OSP 2-16-2
Oregon State Police
Hazardous materials team was called out Sunday after fuel double-tanker truck flipped on Hwy. 22 east of Idanha.
Fuel tanker crash Hwy. 22 OSP 2-16-1
Oregon State Police
Driver escaped with minor injuries after fuel tanker truck overturned on Hwy. 22 east of Idanha on Sunday
Hwy. 20 Santiam Jct. 2-16-1
Snowy conditions reported on Cascade passes Sunday morning; Hwy 22 closed from Santiam Jct. west
Hwy. 22 closure TripCheck 2-16
ODOT TripCheck

(Update: ODOT reports 'making progress' on hauling away soil)

IDANHA, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A 28-mile stretch of Oregon Highway 22 east of Idanha to Santiam Junction will be closed until at least Friday or Saturday due to extensive repairs and cleanup needed after Sunday’s double-tanker truck crash that spilled thousands of gallons of fuel, some into a nearby river, ODOT said Monday.

ODOT officials said they assessed the damage and determined it will take several days to remove contaminated soil and repair the highway where the tanker crashed Sunday morning.

“An area of roadway about 600 feet long needs to be completely excavated and rebuilt,” the agency said.

In an update Tuesday afternoon, ODOT said crews were “making progress digging up and hauling away contaminated soil” on the highway, but that it would remain closed to through traffic “at least through Friday.”

ODOT is working at the site with the state Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, hazardous materials specialists Northwest Firefighters and a construction contractor working for ODOT.

Motorists traveling between Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley will have to use U.S. Highway 20 and state Highway 126E as alternative routes until the work is completed, they said.

The DEQ said Tuesday that a workforce comprised of responders and contractors – as well as the responsible party, the tanker’s owner, Space Age Fuel – is working 12-hour shifts to clean up the spill and prevent gasoline and diesel from entering the river

The DEQ had said Monday nearly 7,900 gallons of the gasoline and diesel fuel spilled and the rest was recovered.

“Fuel is discharging from the bank of the North Santiam River and a sheen is visible a few hundred feet downstream of the site,” the DEQ said. “Crews began excavating contaminated material this morning and will evaluate disposal options.”

“The spill was mostly gasoline, with some diesel,” DEQ spokesman Harry Esteve said Monday. “Most went into the soil on the side of the road. An unknown amount has seeped into the river, and we will be sampling and monitoring tomorrow (Tuesday).”

About 400 feet of hard boom and other absorbent materials are in the river to contain and collect fuel. DEQ said it will continue to monitor potential impacts to fish and wildlife at and downstream of the site. There have been no reports of impacts to drinking water supplies in the area.

The EPA’s on-scene coordinator and contractors are providing the water sampling data for hydrocarbon byproducts at two- and four-mile intervals in the North Santiam River downstream of the crash site.

Oregon State Police, ODOT and other emergency personnel responded around 7:40 a.m. Sunday to the crash near milepost 63, about eight miles east of Idanha and nearly 70 miles east of Salem, OSP Capt. Timothy Fox said.

The truck driver was transported with minor injuries, Fox added.

ODOT's TripCheck shows closure of the highway between mileposts 53 and 81, to Santiam Junction.

"There is no easy detour for vehicles traveling eastbound" on the highway, ODOT advised, adding, "This could be a lengthy closure. Travelers will want to avoid the area or use an alternate route."

They suggested U.S. Highway 20 and Oregon Highway 126E as alternative routes for most travelers between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality advised Sunday afternoon, "An unknown amount (of fuel) was released into the North Santiam River, which provides drinking water for nearby communities and the city of Salem."

DEQ said the trailer tank of the truck, owned by Space Age Fuel, held 6,500 gallons of gasoline, and preliminary indications are that all of it spilled.

The truck tank held 4,100 gallons of diesel, the agency said. By Sunday night, crews had recovered about 2,830 gallons of diesel, but some of the remaining 1,270 gallons reached a roadside ditch and some spilled into the river.

"We are still working to determine how much actually seeped into the river," DEQ spokesman Harry Esteve said Sunday night. "We will know more tomorrow."

Health officials notified downstream drinking water system providers of the spill.

Packed snow was reported near Santiam Junction Sunday morning, with travelers advised to carry chains or traction tires. The snowpack was breaking up near Marion Forks, with slushy conditions reported.

In December 2017, about a mile from Sunday's crash scene, a Redmond man was killed in the fiery rollover crash of his fuel truck on the icy highway and more than 11,000 gallons of unleaded gas spilled, some into the North Santiam River, prompting an extensive cleanup effort.

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. Hmm- I’m willing to bet these double tankers were filled with that radioactive fracking waste we recently heard of. I mean- why else would you shut down 28 miles of roadway in two directions if it was just water tanks or carbon based sludge ?

    Under Kate Brown- Oregon has become a prime transport and dumping location for these trucks- anything to keep “pipe-lines” out of our state !

    1. I doubt if it’s radioactive fracking waste on Hwy 22. If I remember correctly that material was coming from North Dakota and is being dumped at a facility in Arlington, in the Columbia river gorge. It’s possible the 28 mile stretch is closed because there are no alternative routes in that closure area, and it would help keep traffic from backing up if the closure is supposed to be lengthy. Cars could turn around but trucks would be stuck…
      No updates yet Barney ? It’s really odd because I checked a few Portland and Eugene t.v stations, and couldn’t find any stories about the crash. With the highway being completely closed and possibly for a long time, I thought they would have already covered it. Not meant to be a slam but typically they have a story posted long before KTVZ does.

        1. Thanks Barney.I knew that would probably happen after I asked if there were updates…
          Fortunately the driver only has minor injuries, and the crash didn’t involve anyone else. That section of road along the river can be bad during the winter, and doesn’t always get much attention from ODOT but truck crashes seem to be happening almost every year now along that stretch of road. If the fuel got into the river that will be an expensive cleanup, and even if it didn’t, depending on the size of the spill,they will probably be forced to dig up a ridiculous amount of soil.

        2. “The truck driver…”

          It’s now going into day three since this spill. Do we have a name- home-town- update- explanation for/from the driver or the company involved with this truck ?

          Needless to say- shutting down a major thorough-fare across the cascades is bigly news to many- I’m surprised the environmentalists aren’t up in arms- the local high school rocket club isn’t down there throwing matches into the river pools- or the small town breweries aren’t demanding government assistance for their now polluted water supplies !

          Z21 has taken this story on- let’s not let it fade into a cloud of anti-Presidential CNN fueled rants.

    2. You should research this personally, maybe take a hike up there to see for yourself, besides you really need to get out, and refresh that cranium of yours.

    1. In his defense there were no pictures earlier, but I have no idea why he seemed to think
      it would be hauling radioactive waste, especially in that area…. Looks like a Space Age Fuel truck out of Portland. They aren’t exactly known for hiring highly experienced drivers

        1. Okay, how do you know ? I’m guessing you either did or are driving tanker but you wanted me to ask, so I did. Driver shortage, and the lack of good drivers certainly aren’t just limited to tankers, but it’s even worse for those companies because a lot of people don’t want anything to do with hauling fuel.

          1. It was a paraphrase Mike. In other words I know about CMV and hazmat tanks. Yes professional drivers a hard to find for a number of reasons. Fortunately this ex-driver walked away and more than likely he’s going to have a hard time staying in the CDL feild.

            1. You were right though, it’s not an easy job. I did it for about 8 years.
              It will be interesting to see how the investigation goes. I was just on KEZI
              news in Eugene and they have a story about the wreck, and one of the comments
              was very interesting…
              The person that wrote it said they were coming to Bend this morning and were only doing about 35 with studded tires because it was icy, and the truck passed them
              going about 70 mph, and ten minutes down the road, they came upon it crashed…
              Of course we don’t know if what they said is true, and most people aren’t very good at judging speed, but it would confirm my original suspicion that the driver was going to fast. I’ve been through that section of road in a truck hundreds of times during the winter, and you definitely can’t drive to fast, especially when it’s icy, and get away with it forever…

  2. “It is unclear how much, if any, diesel was spilled.”
    “Diesel fuel from the trailer tank was released into a roadside ditch and some seeped into the river, DEQ said.”

    That’s odd…

    1. Personally I think if the investigation finds the driver was driving at, or even near the speed that was alleged, especially on icy roads, the driver should be given some
      jail time, cited, and lose his CDL for life…
      If there was actually 6500 gallons of gas spilled, you can bet that it has
      leached underneath the road itself, so not only will they excavate soil
      along the roadway, and have to deal with the contamination in the river,
      they will also probably be tearing up the road and digging the dirt underneath
      of it.

    2. Fear not – there is always a financial penalty when anyone has an accident – much much more so with a truck with this kind of commodity. Cheaper for the one that burned (except for the driver) – or do you think they should have been penalized more for having an accident as well?

        1. The problem with them being fined is that the people who were actually inconvenienced don’t get a dime of it. Just like workplace safety violation fines and others, the only one that benefits is the State of Oregon, and they certainly aren’t out anything because of what happened…

  3. I see the tanks were corrected. Originally it said there was 6500 gallons of gas in the tank that was on the truck. You can’t get 6500 gallons of gas in the truck tank, and even if you could squeeze it all in, it would be over weight…

  4. I love it. Nobody is noticing how easy it would be to shut the valley off from escaping east when the “big one” comes. Turn around, go back, and clean up the wreckage…don’t leave it for somebody else

    1. Well minor injuries as we said wouldn’t necessitate an update, and no word of charges, that can take time and is not instantaneous. But there was a good Salem paper story yesterday that included his name (a Clackamas man) and noted, as we did, how close this was to the fiery fatal crash in late 2017 that killed a Redmond man.

      1. Thanks Barney. I had to laugh when he said they weren’t aware of the area being a problem, and that they had plowed and sanded the night before and couldn’t figure out why the truck crashed… It has been common knowledge that the entire stretch of road that follows the river gets very icy, and takes a long time to thaw because in most of the areas it doesn’t get much sunlight. As far as plowing and sanding the night before, things can certainly change overnight, and looking at the pictures there are almost no visible cinders on the road, except where it looks like they dumped some next to the truck, after the crash…
        Irregardless, drivers that run that road on a somewhat regular basis know what the road can be like along the river and should drive accordingly. I’ve been on that road when it was beyond slick, and ODOT hadn’t done anything at all to the road, but if you drive accordingly you can still make it safely.

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