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Wreck lands in wetlands

Trucker said he hit a “golf cart size” boulder

FINN ROCK: The report of a single-vehicle crash on May 20th turned out to be a lucky break for Brandon Hanson, 25. He was westbound near Milepost 38 of the McKenzie Hwy. at 1:45 a.m. when he told police he collided with a large boulder that disabled the Peterbilt truck he was operating. The impact caused the semi’s cab and trailer to veer off the roadway, taking out 11 posts and 6 guardrail panels before dropping 6 to 8 feet into a wetland. The lucky part is that Hanson was uninjured.

The Oregon Dept. of Transportation designated the accident scene as a Hazardous Materials incident at 2:34 a,m. due to the presence of 80 gallons of diesel fuel as well as transmission fluid, antifreeze, and oil in the truck.

“Fortunately, it appears most of the fuel/oil was contained in the immediate area,” according to Eugene Water & Electric Board Environmental Specialist David Donahue. He reported there was some flow down a small side channel where it enters a larger slough/wetland, but the flow was limited.

Absorbent booms were placed at several locations down the smaller side channel, and very little sheen was observed. Donahue said he walked the entire perimeter of the crash site, and couldn’t find any evidence that diesel/oil sheens had reached the McKenzie River directly through surface flows.

Vacuum trucks were used to remove the 100,000+ pounds of wood chips on board the trailer owned by Bar Seven A Companies of Redmond.

By Friday afternoon, both the truck and trailer were removed from the wetland/slough area. Donahue said, “The wetland area is still a mess, but largely contained where the truck landed.”

The location was of particular concern because of restoration efforts underway for several years in the Finn Rock Reach area.

“EWEB’s robust source water protection program includes emergency trailers equipped with containment booms - and people like David who are always ready to jump in the water and deploy them - thanks to years of support from our customers and commissioners who believe in preserving the health of the McKenzie River.,” according to Aaron Orlowski, a utility communications specialist.

“Nevertheless,” Orlowski added, “incidents like this can happen, and have the potential to disrupt the source of drinking water for 200,000 people in Eugene. Incidents like this serve as a reminder of the practicality of investing in resiliency and redundancy, and that is why EWEB is working on building a new water treatment facility on the Willamette River.”

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