SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - An update from Rowan County Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason: Due to the proximity of a drinking water well at one of the homes evacuated due to yesterday's tanker accident in the 11000 block of Bringle Ferry Road, remediation company personnel have recommended two families not yet return to their homes.
The accident, which occurred at 6:47am yesterday morning closed a portion of Bringle Ferry Road and forced the evacuation of the immediate area due to fire and explosion hazard concerns from an overturned tanker truck carrying 8,000 gallons of Ethanol. Approximately 3,500-4,000 gallons leaked from the tanker onto the ground and surrounding area after the accident.
Emergency responders worked to successfully contain the spill to the immediate area of the accident, which has not reached any nearby streams, or creeks as earlier reported.
"Due to the closeness of the drinking water well at one of the residences, which also provides water to the second home, a decision was reached with cooperation of the residents and property owners for them not to return to their residences at this time", said Frank Thomason, Chief of Emergency Services with Rowan County. "Officials with the trucking company, Eco-Systems, along with the remediation company, Hepaco, are working diligently and closely with the residents for their safety and the safety of their property. Over the next several days, clean-up workers will be removing the remaining spilled material, and also performing tests on the well to ensure the residents safety. During this time, Eco-Systems is continuing to work with the residents to place them in a local hotel and take care of any other immediate needs during the clean-up and completion of the well testing."
On Friday afternoon WBTV spoke at length with Thomason about the clean up and the response, and why the evacuation was extended for residents in two homes.
"We talked with the residents and they agreed to maintain their evacuation from those two residences overnight, they're in a local hotel," Thomason said. "The trucking company, Eco Systems, has placed them in a hotel for the next several days while the clean up is ongoing and to allow the remediation company to do their testing."
The tanker truck had just filled up with ethanol at the J.T. Russell terminal in Denton. One man in that neighborhood said he has been complaining for years about trucks carrying hazardous materials using rural or residential roads as a shortcut to get to an interstate.
"It's important because of the safety factor of these tankers used these rural roads and residential roads to access wherever they're taking this alcohol," Eddie Lothridge told WBTV. "They're hauling flammable loads on rural roads, usually at pretty good speeds, and these rural fire departments and little residential areas they're going through aren't equipped to handle the tanker situation."
Thomason agreed, but pointed out that the truckers are not restricted and are free to travel any roads that they choose.
"We probably don't realize even ourselves from a transportation standpoint all the different commodities that drive up and down our roads every single day," Thomason added. "Hazardous materials and the materials that are transported are done in a safe manner, but unfortunately accidents do occur, just like this one that happened yesterday. One of the things that you saw yesterday was the preparedness that has to go into and be prepared for when something like this happens, making sure the community is prepared to be able to properly respond."
Thomason also pointed out that the trucking company, Eco Systems of Franklin, TN, was very helpful in the investigation and aftermath.
"The company, the trucking company Eco Systems, they've taken a very positive stance in making sure that this is done right the first time," Thomason said.