Tanker, surpassing limits on Lucas Valley, crashes on way to Greenbridge Gas


An oversized fuel tanker spilled over 2,000 gallons of gasoline into a dry creek bed on Sunday morning when it overturned a mile east of Big Rock, closing Lucas Valley Road for nearly 24 hours while multiple agencies took on a massive recovery operation. The 50-foot truck should have never been on the road, which has a posted 36-foot limit for vehicles, California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay said. When the driver attempted a hairpin turn on his way to Greenbridge Gas & Auto from the Chevron Richmond Refinery, the trailer’s rear tires went over the cliff edge, pulling the rest of the vehicle along with it. The top compartment of the four-section tank—holding 8,319 gallons of petroleum in total—opened as it twisted down the hill. Responders managed to siphon 6,213 gallons into another tanker, leaving 2,106 spilled in the Gallinas Creek watershed. “It’s going to be a long-term cleanup project,” said Steve Gonzalez, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The driver, 28-year-old Jamiel Johnson of Suisun City, was delivering gas for Barbieri Trucking. Before being transported to Marin General Hospital with a cut on his head, he told highway patrol officers that he took the windy road because he was unfamiliar with the area. Barbieri Trucking is responsible for the towing, the fuel recovery and all environmental cleanup costs. A company spokesman declined to comment. The accident caused the Point Reyes Station gas station to run out of fuel at 1:30 p.m. on a busy Sunday afternoon, when many visitors were fleeing high temperatures inland. Law enforcement did not report stranded travelers, whose only alternative fill stations along the coast were in Bolinas and Bodega Bay. The station reopened at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, when Barbieri returned with another tanker. Gas station owner Julie Van Aylea could not estimate how much business was lost over the 17-hour closure. An investigation of the incident to determine potential charges will be handled by California Highway Patrol. Some of the spilled gas was recovered by the Marin County Fire Department using earthen berms and sorbent, but much of it soaked into the soil. Paulson Excavating, a private oil-spill responder working under the direction of the California State Water Resources Control Board, was unable to access the canyon where much of the fuel was spilled until the tanker was removed at 5 a.m. on Monday morning. Diego Truck Repair and Towing used three trucks to first winch the trailer up the cliff, then flip the vehicle over. “It was difficult only in the aspect of dealing with the fuel,” tow truck operator Mike Clinton said. “But as far as bringing it up the hill and rolling it over, it wasn’t super complicated.” Engineers plan to excavate a trench across Miller Creek in the next few days to capture underground gasoline as it seeps downhill. Lucas Valley Road will be limited to alternating one-way traffic during ongoing cleanup.