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February 4, 2010

Officials kept busy with milky mess

Approximately 6,000 gallons of milk were spilled when a milk truck overturned near the intersection of U.S. Highway 270 and County Road E/W 46 southeast of Woodward Wednesday morning.

The driver, whose name was not released, was uninjured.

“He’s fine,” Woodward Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer said of the driver, noting “he was out of his vehicle when we arrived on scene.”

Emergency officials from the Woodward Fire Department, Woodward County EMS, Woodward County Sheriff’s Office and Oklahoma Highway Patrol all responded to the accident, which occurred around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Lehenbauer said the “fully-loaded” milk truck was traveling southeast on Highway 270 when the driver “lost control of the semi.”

After further investigation OHP Trooper Jarrett Iliff, of the Woodward detachment, said the accident was caused by “inattention.”

He said the 25-year-old driver, who is from Kansas, “reached down to grab a drink and ran off the road.”

The truck ended up in the center of the highway, with the semi cab resting on the driver’s side at one end of a median and the milk tanker resting on the opposite side several feet away in the intersection.

As the thousands of gallons of milk flowed from the busted tanker, firefighters worked quickly to contain it and keep the liquid from entering a stormwater drain located in the median.

“What we’re dealing with is a hazmat clean up,” Lehenbauer said, noting “even though it’s milk, it has diesel mixed in.”

He noted that there was approximately 240 gallons of diesel fuel that was also leaking from the semi in addition to the 6,000 gallons of milk.

But while firefighters worked to contain the spill, Woodward Fire Capt. Kyle Covalt said the trucking company that owned the milk truck was “responsible for getting a crew to come clean it up.”

Covalt said that once it was no longer an emergency situation, the Woodward Fire Department handed the scene over to the Highway Patrol, which then coordinated the clean up.

Iliff said the clean up was handled ‘by a company out of Clinton that was contacted by the trucking company’s insurance”

He noted the truck was operated by Isaac Hayes LLC out of Meade, Kan.

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