Contacts: MPCA - Sam Brungardt, 651-282-6410
MnDOT - Kent Barnard, 651-253-2803
Saint Paul, Minn. - State and federal agencies, in cooperation with the city of Minneapolis, will again flush a storm sewer with more water in an effort to keep gasoline from polluting the Mississippi River. The gasoline flowed into the storm sewer when a tanker trailer rolled over Wednesday morning at Interstate 94 and Interstate 394 in Minneapolis.
The truck was carrying 8,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline, with several thousand gallons flowing into a storm sewer that empties into the Mississippi River near the 10th Avenue bridge and near the construction site of the new Interstate-35W bridge.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Minneapolis Fire Department tried flushing the gasoline from the storm sewer with about 30,000 gallons of water. Working under the guidance of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, West Central Environmental Consultants (WCEC) installed "booms" at the sewer outlet near the bridges. The booms were of materials designed to collect and soak up gasoline flushed from the sewer.
By 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, the environmental contractor, using a skimmer attached to a vacuum truck, had recovered about 2,000 gallons of gasoline mixed with water from the area contained by boom at the sewer outlet. However, the flow of water and gasoline from the sewer had stopped by then also.
The plan settled on today will involve flushing the sewer with much more water. This will involve extensive monitoring for gasoline vapor in the sewer, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency taking the lead and working with the city of Minneapolis and its fire department, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Additional monitoring for gasoline vapor will be conducted where the storm sewer empties into the river by the bridge contractor and the safety teams of WCEC and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
During the flushing, WCEC will be prepared to capture and recover the flushed gasoline at the sewer's outlet. This will entail reinforcing the existing containment boom and installing additional boom outside the original containment boom.
It is uncertain when the second flushing of the storm sewer will occur, although it will not be today. Officials said that the flushing will be done "as soon as we can get all the logistics done so we can do it safely and effectively."
Residents of Minneapolis can assist the effort by calling 911 or 311 if they smell gasoline odors.