UPDATED: Gas Tanker Overturns on Winder Highway Near Hwy. 316
Officials say approximately 8,500 gallons of fuel were in the tanker at the time of the accident. Two thousand gallons of spilled fuel have been recovered from a nearby creek.
UPDATED April 9 at 9:15 p.m.
Crews from the Environmental Protection Agency and SWS Environmental Services are working to clean up fuel that spilled from an overturned gas tanker on Winder Highway near Highway 316 in Dacula.
The gas tanker was involved in an accident with a white Jeep Cherokee shortly after noon on Monday.
"The white Jeep Cherokee crossed the center line and hit the tractor trailer basically head on," said Gwinnett County Police public information officer Cpl. Jake Smith.
As a result of the collision, the driver of the tanker lost control of the vehicle and the tanker overturned. The tanker was carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel at the time of the accident.
Both drivers were transported to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville with non-life threatening injuries, Smith said. According to Smith, a witness stopped and pulled the tanker driver out of the vehicle to safety.
"Of course things could've gone much worse than they did," Smith said. "It was a pretty heroic action on his part."
Fire crews worked throughout the afternoon to keep ignition sources to a minimum as fuel seeped out of the tanker.
"If any kind of ignition lights the fuel that's on the ground, it could potentially explode the fuel that's inside the tanker," said Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services public information officer Lt. Eric Eberly.
Crews initially estimated 100 to 250 gallons of fuel had leaked to the ground. However, shortly after 4 p.m., Eberly issued an email update indicating several thousand gallons of fuel had spilled into a nearby creek.
Crews built several dams in the creek to help recover the fuel. According to Eberly, crews from the EPA and SWS will be at the scene throughout the evening mitigating the spill. As of 9 p.m., a total of 2,000 gallons had been recovered from the creek and another 1,000 gallons recovered from the tanker.
Winder Highway was closed as a result of the accident, but is expected to reopen by midnight. The Georgia Department of Transportation will return Tuesday morning to repair a section of damaged roadway, Eberly added.