Rockingham Road Hazmat Spill Explained To Town Council

Battalion Chief Jim Roger, the incident commander for the spill that closed part of Route 28 on Wednesday, Dec. 14, gave an update on the cleanup in the Dec. 19 Town Council meeting.

Roger reviewed the incident, which happened at 5:15 a.m. A truck containing both gasoline and diesel fuel overturned on Route 28 near Sanborn Road, leaking diesel and gas for about 150 yards.

The first of the first responders used Class B foam suppressant to contain the vapors, Roger said, showing a slide of the white foam coating the roadside. It looked like snow but wasn’t, he said.

“The firefighters kept the flammability low with the foam,” Roger said.

The accident was originally thought to have punctured the tank containing diesel, but it was so severe it punctured the other four containers and 1,500 gallons leaked on to the swale, he said.

A unified command was established with the Londonderry Police Department, Roger said.

The State Police, Troop B was also involved and is investigating the accident, according to Roger. Other respondents included the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Services and even the EPA, which sent a representative up from its Boston office. The Salem Fire Department also helped out, and Eversource “had a great response,” according to Roger.

The DOT responded with two truckloads of sand to create a berm, Roger said.

He praised the other departments involved, noting, “We had the utmost cooperation from everyone.”

It was not necessary to close North School or a nearby day care, Roger said, but traffic, including buses, was rerouted for much of the day. There were two private homes with private wells in the vicinity of the spill, but their water was sampled and “they are waiting for the results to come back,” Roger said. There were no aquifers in the area of the spill.

The incident could have been “difficult, tragic,” Roger said, but because of the parties involved, it was taken care of. “We were lucky because of the weather that day and the topography,” he added.

A company called NRC has been awarded the contract for cleanup, and it is expected to take five weeks, Roger said. “it is a slow and meticulous process,” he said.

Cleanup was still in the discussion stage and was expected to be finalized this past Wednesday, according to Roger. Eversource was also expected to de-energize the power lines on Wednesday.

Councilor Tom Dolan said he was pleased with the environmental cleanup but asked about the cost.

Fire Chief Darren O’Brien said he expected the driver’s insurance company to reimburse his department for 115 hours of overtime and the loss of three sets of Personal Protective Gear to contamination.

The estimated cost for the cleanup is $1 million, which is expected to be borne by the driver and his insurance company, Roger said.

Town Manager Kevin Smith commended Roger for his handling of the incident and the regular updates he provided to Smith’s office.

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