Soil clean-up to start this week at Donner Lake |

Soil clean-up to start this week at Donner Lake

Greyson Howard
Tahoe Daily Tribune

TRUCKEE – Crews plan to start this week on removing areas of soil near Donner Lake that were contaminated from the May 26 diesel fuel spill.

The spill, caused by a big rig accident on Interstate 80 on Donner Summit, emptied about 3,000 gallons of diesel onto the roadway, the surrounding soil and down Summit Creek into Donner Lake. With diesel no longer detectable in Donner Lake, efforts are shifting to the dirt.

“While the goal is to move as thoroughly and as quickly as we can, this will be a large operation in a very dangerous area along I-80,” said Hector Orozco, incident commander for Department of Fish and Game in a press release. “We need to have all of the equipment and people available and ready go so we can do this right and safely.”

According to the press release, some soil has already been removed along I-80 on the shoulder, but working in the center divider will be more difficult. Fish and Game said the majority of the diesel was spilled in the center divide area.

The concern with soil contamination is rainwater or snowmelt leaching the diesel back into streams and Donner Lake, so a precautionary boom still is in place on Summit Creek, according to the release.

Fish and Game, along with Nevada County Environmental Health, will continue to test the water in Donner Lake and upstream, said Alexia Retallack, with Fish and Game. She said that while cleanup could take weeks, restoration and monitoring will go on for months.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust to any changes,” said Carol Oz, Fish and game environmental scientist. “We have rain contingency plans in place to ensure protection of the public and environment, and additional teams on stand by ready to respond.”

A three-axle tanker was traveling east on I-80 early Wednesday when the driver, Michael Anderson, 42, of Sacramento, slid on the icy road and overturned, colliding with the guard rail, rupturing the tank and emptying about 2,500 gallons of diesel onto the roadway. Anderson was uninjured in the wreck.

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