Crews remove soil from contaminated crash site

Posted Nov. 18, 2009, at 8:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

TOWNSHIP 1 RANGE 6, Maine — The third day of cleanup of a chemical spill caused when an allegedly drunken Tennessee truck driver rolled over his rig on Interstate 95 late Sunday went well, but cleanup crews likely will work until at least Friday to finish the job, a state official said Wednesday.

A Maine Department of Environmental Protection hazmat response team from Bangor and a crew from Environmental Projects Inc. of Auburn hauled about 80 yards of contaminated soil to the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Alton, said Barbara Parker, director of the DEP’s Division of Response Services.

“It was spread over quite a wide area,” though less than the size of a football field, Parker said Wednesday.

The 80 yards represents four of the 12 tote containers of chemicals — each carrying as many as 330 gallons of chemicals — that broke open in the crash, Parker said.

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DEP and Environmental Projects workers also are testing soil and water from a drainage ditch along the highway at the crash scene, which is about 11 miles north of Medway.

“The trucking company [MLG Trucking of Memphis] has done everything we have asked,” Parker said. “They are doing this cleanup [through Environmental Projects]. It will be very expensive for them.”

The truck driver, Kenneth Taylor, 45, of Memphis, Tenn., was carrying papermaking chemicals to the Verso Paper Co. mill in Bucksport and missed his turn on Interstate 95 by nearly 75 miles before he drifted off the right side of the roadway at mile marker 255, which is in Township 1 Range 6.

Taylor, who was driving a 2006 Peterbilt tractor-trailer for MLG, was charged with aggravated operating under the influence. An Intoxilyzer test showed that Taylor had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, double the state’s legal limit of 0.08, state police have said.

After spending the night in jail, Taylor was released after his first appearance in 3rd District Court in Bangor on Monday afternoon, a jail official said.

Taylor pleaded not guilty to the charge and has asked for a bench trial, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 6 in Lincoln District Court, according to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.

Cleanup will continue today. The DEP also will test soil at the crash site next spring to ensure that all contaminants were cleaned up, Parker said.

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