Big rig hauling milk, overturns spilling diesel, prompting HazMat response


A big rig traveling through the Grapevine, hauling condensed milk on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, crashed through a guardrail and plunged down an embankment, injuring the driver and spilling 100 gallons of diesel.

No milk was spilled in the solo vehicle crash, officials said.

Shortly after 4:45 a.m. Monday, the big rig was reported by motorists crashing through the guard rail just south of Smokey Bear Road, went a brief way down an embankment, flipped and stopped on its side.

Paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the call shortly after 5 a.m.

“This call was for an overturned truck carrying condensed milk,” Fire Department spokeswoman Leslie Lua said.

“Firefighters requested a pump truck to transfer the milk from one truck to another,” she said.

California Highway Patrol officers notified CalTrans crews about the incident.

Health HazMat crews, specifically trained in dealing with hazardous materials, also responded to the crash.

Firefighters built a 15-foot dirt berm between the freeway and nearby Pyramid Lake.

CalTrans workers responding to the crash for the cleanup reported to state officials that they smelled diesel in the soil near the crash, according to the Hazardous Materials Spill Report compiled by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

According to their report to OES, CalTrans “personnel discovered an odor of diesel in the soil and found that the driver side saddle tank appears to be empty.”

“The saddle tank holds a maximum of approximately 100 gallons, since the fuel level at the time of incident is unknown, the reported quantity is the maximum quantity,” CalTrans officials reported, noting the big rig driver was taken to the hospital for injuries suffered in the crash.

Shortly after 6:10 a.m., some of the first responders expressed concern that the hillside would not hold the overturned truck.

About the same time, CHP officers issued a sig alert, shutting down the slow lane for an estimated six hours while crews worked to contain the spill, transfer the milk and tow the big rig from the scene.

The CHP, however, extended the sig alert for another three hours shortly after noon.

As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, Caltrans was reporting traffic southbound on I-5 was still reduced to two lanes from about 3.5 miles south of Gorman, due to the crash.
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