SCOTTSBURG — Working with a subcontractor, a trucking company has removed all contaminated soil from the vehicle accident that closed the Scottsburg Bridge for several days.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Katherine Benenati said the DEQ state on-scene coordinator "visited the site a couple of times during the early days."
"The investigation concluded once we received samples that showed First Strike Environmental had removed all contaminated soil," she said.
A Seattle truck driver with ITP hit the bridge and was cited by the Oregon State Police. Approximately 50 gallons of diesel poured from the truck into the Umpqua River and surrounding soil.
Sergi Borodin was driving a semi-truck, hauling empty wood pallets, at milepost 16. According to the Oregon State Police, Borodin was trapped inside the cab. Rescue personnel extricated him and rushed him to the hospital for minor injuries. Police cited Borodin for several traffic violations and said Borodin was driving too fast.
As a result, thousands of drivers had to head to Oregon Highway 42 or 126.
"Keep in mind, if DEQ discovers contamination that was not uncovered originally then it would request further action," she emphasized. "DEQ doesn't think that likely, given the extent of the excavation, but could take that step if warranted."
She added that DEQ personnel haven't finished their enforcement action against ITP.
Company workers finished digging up contaminated soil in April.
"First Strike Environmental removed about 4.25 tons of soil that was contaminated with petroleum," Benenati said. "The contaminated soil was hauled to Dry Creek Landfill in Jackson County."
She said Dry Creek has permits from DEQ to accept this type of waste.
"It was clear that fuel had reached the soil and that needed to be removed," Benenati said. Diesel leaked from one of the bridge pillars onto the shore. "In these situations, you want to ensure the contamination is removed to prevent further contamination from entering the waterway."
Workers put booms in place to keep oil from leaving the area. She added that First Strike "placed a more rigid plastic boom 'sea curtain' along 200 feet of waterway."
The boom floats on the surface "but has a barrier that extends down and is anchored to the river bed."
Additionally, laborers placed 400 feet of "soft boom" in concentric semi circles. This type of boom absorbs like a sock the oil.
"The trucking company worked expeditiously to hire a contractor who conducted a thorough cleanup," the spokeswoman added.
Chris Jovanov works as the safety manager for ITP and said company personnel fired Borodin the day after the accident.
"I don't want to blame anybody," Jovanov said. "Yes it is a big factor -- the driver."
He said Borodin's speed at the time of the accident was definitely a factor.
However Jovanov said the Scottsburg Bridge is dangerous.
"I don't know but somebody has to do something," the safety manager said. "Either a new bridge or a reroute."
Plus Jovanov said the road by the bridge is horrible.
"The approach to the bridge is really really bad," the safety manager emphasized.
The Oregon Legislature approved $40 million to replace the structure and this had been an effort for some time. Oregon Department of Transportation officials anticipate work to start in 2019.
Jovanov said that in his opinion many trucking company personnel don't check a driver's background.
"I mean it's not crucial to check the background but it's a good idea," he said.
Jovanov highly recommended trucking companies have a training driver in place with the student driver.
"Just be proactive," the safety manager said. "We try to do that. At least to have a good training police (in place) before hiring."
"This guy was with us for two years," Jovanov said. "Prior to this, we had no issues with him. Like no issues at all. This was actually one of the really good drivers."