LIMESTONE - Officials warned motorists to avoid U.S. 250 in Marshall County this morning after a tanker truck hauling propane overturned Monday, closing the highway "until further notice."
Tom Hart, director of the county Office of Emergency Management, said alternate routes for commuters this morning could include Middle Grave Creek Road, Fork Ridge Road, W.Va. 88 and - for local traffic - Campbell Hill Road.
The truck was hauling propane north on U.S. 250 from the Williams Energy Ft. Beeler natural gas processing plant when it rolled onto its side. Hart said the accident was reported to 911 at 7:52 p.m. and occurred about halfway between Pleasant Valley and Limestone.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
A utility line is draped across an overturned propane tanker truck on U.S. 250 between Limestone and Pleasant Valley on Monday.
The driver was not injured, but the incident created a headache for travelers, first responders and nearby residents - some of whom were evacuated from their homes.
Not only was the truck, containing flammable material, lying along the roadway, but the accident knocked a utility line into the roadway. Hart was unsure what type of line was involved, but he believed it was a telephone or cable wire.
Representatives of the Marshall County Sheriff's Department and Limestone Volunteer Fire Department evacuated four homes as a precaution, Hart said. Propane is a volatile substance often used as fuel for torches, grills, heating units and more.
According to Hart, another tanker had arrived at the scene by about 9 p.m.
"They're going to attempt to off-load the wrecked tanker onto the empty one," Hart said.
After that was accomplished, Hart said, a crew with Middle Grave Creek Towing would be charged with hauling the overturned tanker from the scene. John Hart, captain of Limestone VFD, said it would take an estimated 15 hours from the time of the accident to off-load the contents of the tank.
"This is one of four rollovers on this road since they built that plant," John Hart said.
Assisting with the crash cleanup and traffic control were the Moundsville and Cameron VFDs, Tri-State EMS, the West Virginia Division of Highways and the federal Department of Transportation.
Tom Hart also refuted early reports that the tanker was leaking. Instead, he said, officials had concluded the liquid that was observed was condensation.
Scott Carney, spokesman for Williams, said the company will stop all truck traffic in and out of the Ft. Beeler plant until the situation is resolved. He also said the truck driver was a contract worker, rather than a direct employee of Williams.
Natural gas is pumped via pipeline from West Virginia well sites to Ft. Beeler. Once on-site, the gas goes through several refining steps to strip the dry methane from wet propane, butane and other natural gas liquids.
Staff Writers Casey Junkins and Sarah Harmon contributed to this report.