Many concerned about safety after oil spill in Decatur

WAAY 31 talked with one man who lives near where the oil spill happened, and we learned what he thinks needs to be done.

Posted: May 11, 2018 5:29 PM
Updated: May 11, 2018 5:32 PM

Those who live near the intersection where a fuel tanker overturned and spilled some of its load on Thursday say, now, they’re concerned about their safety.

The spill happened at the intersection of Indian Hills and Upper River Road.

It shut down two businesses, blocked traffic, and even forced some people to evacuate.

WAAY 31 talked with one man who lives near where the spill happened and learned what he thinks needs to be done.

“It’s happened several times before so it wasn’t a real surprise when I heard that a truck had fallen into the ditch," said Chuck Johns. "What was really surprising, when I walked up there and saw it was a gasoline tanker and he had completely gone, ‘whoop,’ belly-up.”

Johns says this isn’t the first time a truck has overturned on his road, just the first time it's been hazardous.

“A substantial amount of a highly flammable substance within 200 yards of home. Yeah, that brought up a little concern," he said.

The concerns were about potentially losing his home.

“Fire and explosion, and how far would that much of that combustion would reach in the explosion," he said. "Would it reach my home from that distance?”

And it’s not just his home he’s worried about.

“This drains out into a little creek on the other side which drains into Flint Creek down here, which goes into the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge," Johns said.

And the worst part, Johns says, is that it could’ve been avoided.

“Truck drivers that willfully ignore signage that is there that says, ‘No truck traffic on this particular road,'" he said.

Johns says he’s reached out to District Three City Councilwoman Paige Bibbee, as well as Mayor Tab Bowling, and even the Decatur Police Department to see if something can be done to keep truckers from coming down their road.

“I have discussed with the police department about some heavy enforcement. Write some tickets," he said. "People get some heavy tickets for speeding, and for coming into a street that’s marked ‘No trucks,’ and they’ll get the message. Hit them in the wallet.”

Officials tell WAAY 31 they will be working to remove all of the contaminated soil, but the process may take about a week.

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