A semi trailer hauling thousands of gallons of hot petroleum oil crashed about 8 miles east of Washougal, Washington, Tuesday morning. All lanes of Washington state Route 14 remain closed.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, 3,000 gallons of hot oil leaked onto the highway.
WSDOT spokesman Bart Treece says the oil, called PG 64-22, is used to create asphalt. The substance has already started to harden, making it more difficult to remove.
“It’s quite a mess to clean up and this type of oil is pretty nasty stuff,” Treece said. “It’s used for road construction and this stuff doesn’t really seep in as much as it solidifies. Cleaning this up is pretty tough stuff.”
The Washington State Department of Ecology dispatched a crew to the scene to assess the spill.
“For us, it’s most urgent anytime oil hits the water,” said Sandy Howard, who works with Ecology’s Spill Program. “And in this case, it hasn’t.”
While SR-14 does run parallel to the Columbia River, Howard said there don’t appear to be any impacts to water and there are no creeks or rivers in the immediate vicinity of the spill.
Officials say it’s still too early to tell when the highway will reopen. WSDOT has opened a detour route on Salmon Falls Road.