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DATE: September 4, 2003

INCIDENT TYPE: Storage Drum Rupture

LOCATION: District 6

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Spill Cleanup from Overturned Big Rig

THE ACCIDENT: In the morning of Saturday, August 23 Caltrans crews were called to the scene of an overturned big rig. Spilled were 25 tons of grapes and about 20 gallons of diesel fuel. Most of the fuel was contained on the roadway with sand and soil. Some fuel was floating on grape juice in a small drainage basin adjacent to the paved shoulder. The fuel-soaked soil along with cleanup materials (spill pads and pillows) were drummed and stored at a local Maintenance station to await disposal by our spills contractor. There was a small amount of grape juice mixed with the contaminated soil; as a result, pressure built up when the drums were sealed, and one drum cover blew off. No one was injured in this incident but the potential for injury is certainly present when these drums are subjected to excessive pressure.

CONCLUSIONS: Fermentation of the grape juice caused pressure to build up in the sealed drum, not the diesel fuel.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Crews should be instructed when storing any material that has the propensity to ferment or expand in vented areas, if stored in drums, to not tighten the seals. All drums must be properly labeled. For any questions about hazardous material storage or labeling, please consult your district Haz-Mat Coordinator.




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