An overweight tractor-trailer with bad brakes ended up losing its paint load on a steep New York road this week, smashing totes filled with traffic paint across the street and into a ditch, police say.
It took a day and a half for emergency response teams and a private clean-up firm to dig out contaminated soil, contain the mess, and sop up the more than 3,700 gallons of waterborne marking paint on Steuben Street in Montour Falls, NY, New York State Police said.
Piles of sand absorb thousands of gallons of paint from a ditch by the road.
87K Truck; 5K Limit
Roosevelt Howard, 59, a driver for Wistar Trucking LLC, of Ashland, VA, ran into trouble when he took his 87,000-pound loaded rig onto the steep road, which has a five-ton weight limit, State Police Trooper Shields said Thursday (Aug. 16).
Making matters worse, two of the truck’s 10 brakes were not operating, meaning that the truck should have been taken out of service, said Shields.
The truck had been headed from Virginia to Waterloo, NY, Shields said. Neither Howard nor the company could be reached for comment.
The driver was cited for driving an overweight rig, with bad brakes, on the roadway.
The load had been strapped down but suddenly shifted, breaking all of the straps and sending the entire load of 375-gallon totes bursting all over the road and into a roadside ditch, police said.
The local Sheriff’s Department said the trailer had detached from the rig cab, but Shields said the truck stayed intact. He said Howard was not injured, “except for his ego.” Howard was cited for being “way over” the road’s five-ton weight limit and for operating a truck with inadequate brakes, Shields said.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Spill Response team was summoned to review the situation; Op-Tech Environmental Services, of East Syracuse, NY, was brought in to clean up the roadway, dump sand into the ditch to absorb the spill, and excavate the paint-soaked soil and sand.
Most of the paint landed in the ditch and started to flow down the side of the street. Authorities said the loose paint was stopped within 500 feet of the accident by loads of sand dumped into the ditch.
The trucking company will most likely be held responsible for the clean-up bill, police said.
Shields said Howard had taken that street in order to avoid a steep hill, only to encounter another one.
“Sometimes,” said Shields, “you just can’t stop.”