UPDATE 9:35 a.m.: VDOT says crews have cleared the scene of Friday morning’s crash in Botetourt County, which resulted in a tanker losing about 500 gallons of diesel on I-81 North.
UPDATE 6:51 a.m.: Botetourt County crews continue to clean up the scene of a hazmat incident after a diesel tanker crashed along I-81 North Friday morning, which is not only detouring motorists, but may also affect school bus routes.
VDOT is not reporting any delays due to the crash, but cameras still show crews blocking all lanes at mile marker 164.3 on I-81 North and detouring traffic at exit 162 so they can re-enter the interstate at mile marker 167.
Even though fire officials say the tractor-trailer was carrying approximately 7,700 gallons of diesel fuel, Virginia State Police tell WFXR News that it lost about 500 gallons of its load when it overturned in the median.
According to the Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS, the vehicle has been stabilized and personnel are drilling into each compartment of the damaged tank so they can pump the fuel into a new trailer.
Hazmat technicians and specialists are performing this “offensive work” because they need to monitor for combustible gases, as well as use grounding and bonding procedures to limit the chances of ignition, fire officials say.
As for the fuel that flowed out of the area through drainage channels, the department says its crews’ solid defensive skills allowed them to contain the spread of fuel, adding that there is no immediate evidence of any fuel making it to the James River.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we are thankful for the hard work of our responders and our great partners,” the Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS wrote on Facebook at 6:25 a.m. on Friday.
Meanwhile, Botetourt County Public Schools says the incident shutting down I-81 North may significantly affect school bus routes Friday morning, especially for students attending Buchanan Elementary School, Central Academy Middle School, and James River High School.
“Please exercise caution and be patient as we safely get our students to school today,” the district wrote.
BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Motorists may need to seek alternate routes in Botetourt County Friday morning because crews have closed off I-81 North due to a hazmat incident involving an overturned tanker.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) tweeted at 1:40 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 12 that all northbound lanes were closed at mile marker 164.3 on I-81 due to a tractor-trailer crash.
Meanwhile, according to the Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS, reports came in around 1:30 a.m. about an overturned tanker with at least one person possibly trapped inside.
When crews arrived at the scene along, they say the found a vehicle hauling 7,700 gallons that had overturned in the median. Units immediately started checking on the driver and working to control the spread of diesel fuel, which was coming from multiple tears and openings in the tank closures.
Botetourt County emergency officials posted on Facebook shortly before 4 a.m. that fire and hazmat resources from Botetourt County, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Roanoke Valley Hazmat Team, private cleanup contractors, and towing and recovery partners are working to secure the spilled fuel and stabilize the vehicle for offloading.
Crews say they are also working to limit the fuel’s spread via the culverts, as well as access to the James River near Mount Joy Road.
While VDOT did report delays up to two miles within an hour of the crash, officials say have since cleared because a detour has been set up at exit 162 on I-81 North, taking motorists to Route 11 through Buchanan.
The Botetourt County Department of Fire and EMS expects this full closure will continue for several hours until they can stabilize the incident and safely reopen the interstate.
As of this writing, VDOT’s traffic camera at mile marker 164 is still showing crews cleaning up the incident on I-81 North.
Virginia State Police confirmed to WFXR News that there are no reports of injuries resulting from this crash.