Dump truck hit-and-run causing environmental problems

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 6:06 PM

About 80 gallons of diesel fuel are flowing into Puget Sound through sewer pipes after a crash on I-5 Monday morning.

"I would say this is in the difficult range, for sure," said Seattle Public Utilities worker Eric Autry.

The workers are scaling rocky terrain and slippery shores to soak up the toxic, black mess along the Duwamish Waterway, trying to protect plants and fish. It's personal to SPU's Eric Autry, who fishes Puget Sound and wants his kids to be able to do the same.

"I can at least, at the end of the day, say I tried to do something," he said.

There's still a lot of oil left in the affected sewer lines that run from just south of the downtown convention center past Spokane Street and to the massive outfall pipe that dumps into the Duwamish. The diesel is at the whim of tides and rain. That's where SPU's Mike Jeffers comes in. He's tracking the oil through the storm drains. He's wishing for rain to wash the fuel out of the lines and into the containment booms where it will be soaked up. With only dry weather in the forecast, it will be a while.

"We do have to keep it clean," he said. "We all use it. We all want it clean."

While this is far from a major spill, they happen almost every day all around Puget Sound -- and every drop that is cleaned up counts. 

"Anytime we can get pollution out of the water we're going to do all we can to be successful," said Autry. "It's important to me. This is important work."

Autry says SPU will wait for police to determine who is at fault for the spill and that party will be billed for the clean-up costs.

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