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Dirt contaminated by diesel spill

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LAWTON, Okla._Nearly one hundred gallons of fuel was spilled Monday morning after a truck carrying fuel collected from an overnight accident was mistakenly driven.

Late Sunday night, a semi truck carrying the fuel over-turned along southbound I-44 between Cache Road and Roger's Lane. The fuel was removed from the truck and was being stored at a wrecker business when an employee mistakenly drove the truck not knowing the fuel was inside. The fuel immediately spilled in the business's parking lot, causing panic.

It was initially reported that nearly 300 gallons were spilled but to their relief it was closer to 100. Even better, the diesel never made it to the storm drainage system thanks to the wrecker's employees. Once they saw the spill they started working to contain before emergency officials arrived.

"Diesel is not extremely flammable, so there was minimal danger in that regards. So we're basically dealing with the environmental aspect of it," explained Lt. Flanagan of the Lawton Fire Department.

Storm water manager for the City of Lawton, Cynthia Williams, was on the scene and says none of the fuel came in contact with the storm water system.

"DEQ has talked to the property owner and has given them the proper steps and they are fulfilling them right now," said Williams.

Flanagan says they put hydro-absorbing screening on the diesel to absorb it and then it can be removed.

"We don't want anymore of the diesel to soak into the ground than necessary. The material that's being applied will absorb it," said Lt. Flanagan.

Williams says the property owners stepped into action and prevented the diesel from running off into the storm drains.

"Because of their quick response it is not posing an additional threat to the storm water system," said Williams.

Flanagan noted that with rain in the forecast for Monday, cleaning the diesel up quickly was very important.

"That's why it needs to be cleaned up now. It's underway now and should be completed in a couple of hours," said Lt. Flanagan.

The Department of Environmental Quality will conduct tests to make sure the area is not contaminated. The site will be remediated by removing and disposing of the contaminated dirt.

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