Gasoline tanker accident slows turnpike traffic

The contents of a damaged gasoline tanker truck, at right, are transferred into another tanker on the Kansas Turnpike just west of Lawrence in this photo taken from video. The first tanker was damaged in a collision Sunday night, and the ruptured hull allowed gasoline to spew onto the roadway. Westbound traffic was slowed for several hours because of the accident.

A car abruptly switching lanes cut off a gasoline tanker truck Sunday night, causing a gash in the tanker that allowed its contents to spew onto the Kansas Turnpike, just west of the West Lawrence interchange. No injuries were reported, but traffic was slowed for several hours over a stretch of road about a mile long as emergency crews worked to secure the scene.

The tanker, traveling westbound, was driving in the left lane before emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene about 9:50 p.m. Sunday.

“Another vehicle swerved from the right lane into the left lane,” causing the truck to make contact with the median, rupturing the tanker, said a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who withheld his name because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

He said gasoline sprayed onto the right lane of the highway as the truck pulled over to the shoulder. The tanker continued to leak fuel, which drained into a culvert, until another tanker truck arrived at the scene and transferred enough gasoline to stop the leaking around 11:30 p.m.

The trooper said a HazMat team from Douglas County Emergency Management was on site to make sure the leaked fuel did not run into storm sewers, and a front-load bulldozer was digging a ditch to contain the spilled gasoline.

It was not clear whether the vehicle that cut off the truck actually made contact with it, and authorities were unable to confirm whether the vehicle had been cited for a traffic violation; a large dent, approximately 6 feet long, marred the left side of the tanker.

At press time this morning, authorities were unable to say how much fuel had leaked from the truck.