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Crashed Tanker Spills Crude Oil Into Price River, Prompts Route 6 Detour Near Price

Aerial map showing the stretch of highway near carbonville utah
Utah DEQ
Site of tanker crash near Carbonville exit.

Updated 4:40 p.m. MST 7/13/18

Traffic was detoured Friday on Route 6 for most of the day after a double tanker crashed and spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil onto the roadway and into the Price River in Carbon County.

Donna Kemp Spangler, communications director for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), said the spill involved about 6,000 gallons of "waxy crude" from the Uintah Basin.

“What that means is it solidifies in the water — makes the cleanup a little easier because it looks like a big chunk of licorice just floating in the water,” Spangler said.


A rolled over oil tanker lays across the highway, partially in a river.
Credit Utah Department of Public Safety
The truck transporting crude oil that crashed around 9:45 p.m. Thursday near Price, Utah.

Todd Royce, spokesman for Utah Highway Patrol, said the double tanker operated by Maverik was headed east in a westbound lane at about 9:45 p.m. when it struck a Price River bridge abutment.

The first tanker carrying 8,000 gallons ruptured and spilled most of its contents onto the roadway and into a ditch that drains into the river. Cleanup crews pumped around 4,000 gallons from the second tanker, which overturned but did not spill.


Royce said the tanker driver was taken to Castleview Hospital in Price with minor injuries, and the crash is under investigation.


The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the scene — a requirement under federal law whenever there is a significant oil spill. A contractor was hired to perform the emergency cleanup.

Spangler from the DEQ said staff from the Utah Division of Water Quality took water samples immediately after arriving at the spill site, but results from those tests won’t be available until next week.


She said about 750-1,000 gallons of oil reached the river, and it could take weeks to clean up all of the small bits of oil littering the river banks and the river itself.


Whitney Waterfall, spokeswoman for Carbon County emergency services, said the spill occurred about two miles downstream from the intake for local water supplies. Neither local drinking water nor agricultural water was affected, she said.


Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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