Spill clean up continues after fatal accident

Mar 15, 2019

 

Containment boom was deployed in Moose Creek after a fatal traffic accident left heavy equipment in the creek and leaking fuel.
Credit Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

Clean up continues after an accident near Moose Pass that killed an Anchor Point man Wednesday afternoon. Forty-six year old Marc Roderick was towing an excavator on a low-boy trailer that ended up in Moose Creek.

 

 


The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is on the scene near mile 33 of the Seward Highway. Moose Creek is an anadromous body, and well known for supporting several species of fish, some of which will be stirring into action as the weather continues to warm. Geoff Merrell is DEC’s on-site coordinator. He says because of that habitat, they’re taking a delicate approach to clean up.

“We are operating under an emergency permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that enables us to work in anadromous streams and stream beds and disturb soils and things like that. There’s a whole suite of special things we’re having to do as a result.”

Merrell says they know the fuel and other capacities for the equipment, but they don’t know how much fuel was actually on board. The truck could hold 300 gallons of diesel, while the excavator could carry 160 gallons of diesel and another 140 gallons of hydraulic fluid. The excavator was still in Moose Creek as of Friday afternoon, however it was not reported to be leaking anything. Merrell says one of their first concerns was contamination of the water source for the nearby Trail Lakes hatchery that’s operated by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association.

“The thing that was most helpful to us was they were able to educate us on where the water source is for the hatchery itself. And as it turns out, they use a series of groundwater wells, not lake water (that could be impacted). Early on we concerned about potentially impacting an entire year class of fish, and so that helped us to then to be able to shift our priorities to other elements of the response," Merrell said.

 

The main element of that response is retrieving the excavator from Moose Creek, then the truck that had been pulling it, from the embankment.

“But, as anybody who’s familiar with that area knows, access to the site and whether we will be able to get the excavator moved today, which is what we’re working on, whether we’ll be able to get that removed today or tomorrow is still an open question.”

The weather hasn’t been real helpful in that effort, and more of the same spring-like conditions are expected through the weekend. Response crews have placed containment boom around the excavator and absorbent boom in other spots on the creek, which feeds into the spawning grounds of Upper Trail Lake. Merrell says recovery efforts will proceed as weather allows for safe operation of heavy equipment in that sensitive area.