Milk Truck Accident Endangers Wildlife

By: Whitney Holmes Email
By: Whitney Holmes Email

May 8, 2007

Thousands of gallons of milk and diesel inside one truck made the Tuesday morning commute for many on Rockfish Gap Turnpike turn sour after the truck flipped over.

"This is a single vehicle tractor trailer milk truck coming down the mountain and overturning. It is currently blocking one northbound lane," said Cpl. Glenn Fink of Albemarle County Police.

The traffic situation got worse as police closed down Critzer's Shop Road early Tuesday afternoon so hazmat crews could work the scene.

The driver of the truck was not hurt, but the same cannot be said for the organisms in Stockton Creek where the milk spilled.

Because milk mixes with water much quicker than diesel, crews had a hard time cleaning up that liquid which can do serious damage to the ecosystem.

"Whether it's fish, crawdads, or other things that reside in the creek, it is hazardous to them," said Fink.

Police speculate that the truck was going too fast down the hill and tried to brake, but was not able to slow down enough before making the curve, causing it to flip over.

Police say the intersection is no stranger to accidents like this one. "I know this location and there have been trucks that have turned over numerous times before," stated Fink.

The combination of the hill and tight curve make for a tricky turn. Drivers in the past have been charged, and police say, this situation is no different. The driver faces two charges including reckless driving.

Hazmat crews spent the rest of the afternoon pumping the remaining milk and diesel out of the truck so they could flip it back over. They also dammed the creek so they could pump the contaminated water out.

The Department of Environmental Quality and the County Fire Marshal are assessing the environmental impact.

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