Between one and five gallons of diesel fuel ran into a storm drain in downtown San Luis Obispo on Monday and one block of Osos Street was closed after a traffic crash between a semi-trailer and another vehicle cracked open the truck’s fuel tank.
The incident happened about 11:45 a.m. when the 18-wheeler delivery truck driver was making a wide right turn from Monterey Street onto Osos Street. Another driver, not realizing the truck was turning, tried to cut inside and ran into the diesel tank, San Luis Obispo City Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Bisson said.
The impact cracked the well open and diesel fuel started spraying out of the vehicle, Bisson said. About two to three gallons of fuel spilled as the truck driver pulled up Osos Street to safely stop. No one was injured in the crash.
“The truck driver had attempted on his own to put his hand over the leak and stop the leak,” Bisson said. “We got here quickly and were able to plug the tank using a special putty” and pour a powdered clay on fuel in the gutter to absorb it before it went into the storm drain.
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In the meantime, the diesel fuel traveled 20 to 30 feet down Osos Street and into a storm drain, which eventually empties into San Luis Creek. The fuel that hit the storm drain was absorbed by a large amount of dirt and leaves, Bisson said, which “sucked it up like a sponge.”
Bisson estimated the fuel would have had to travel about 50 yards underground to reach the creek.
Osos Street between Monterey and Palm streets was closed to traffic for a few hours as city fire and public works crews responded and then waited for a private contractor from Santa Maria to respond and remove the hazardous material.