A visually spectacular morning accident at the Tote terminal on the Port of Tacoma’s Blair Waterway released between 10 and 20 gallons of diesel fuel into the waterway, the state Department of Ecology reported today.
Cleanup crews kept the spilled diesel contained to a small area on the waterway near the terminal on the east side of the Blair near its mouth, the agency said.
The incident occurred about 9 a.m. when a vacuum tanker truck owned by Seattle’s Marine Vacuum Services was leaving a Tote trailership after pumping bilge water into its tank, said Ecology spokeswoman Kim Schmanke.
Because the ramp leading from the ship was at a sharp angle, the vacuum truck’s underside scrapped across the top of the ramp, puncturing a brake line, causing the truck to roll backward toward the ship. The truck struck a high pressure water standpipe on its uncontrolled roll backwards sending a geyser of water upward. That same collision also punctured one the truck’s fuel saddle tanks, spilling diesel onto the dock and into the water, she said.
A spill response contractor quickly deployed floating booms to contain the spill on the water and used absorbent materials to soak up the fuel on the dock.
“It was a quick, good response,” said Schmanke. The truck’s driver escaped injury, the vacuum company said.